Lupita Nyong’o Gets Real About Diversity In Hollywood

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Nov 14, 2019

Much has changed in Hollywood in recent years, from #MeToo to a roster of films showcasing diverse narratives, and Lupita Nyong’o is well aware of her place in contemporary cinema.

She joined Awkwafina, Laura Dern, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lopez and Renée Zellweger for The Hollywood Reporter’s annual actress roundtable discussion, which was published on Wednesday (November 13). The wide-ranging conversation touched on gender, diversity and imposter syndrome. Listen in:

Nyong'o: This #MeToo time, this Time's Up time in the industry, is about allowing for equitable representation. And because I am a Black woman, I am a beneficiary of that movement in the work that I've been able to do. I'm very grateful to have come into the industry at the time that I have because I am benefiting from the efforts of a lot of other women who have come before me, other Black women who have had it a lot rougher than I have. This is a time where there is a concerted effort to consider diversity and inclusion. What I really want is for it to not be a fad, not be a trend. Right now it's really dope and cool and on trend to work with women and underrepresented groups, but the moment of maturity in the industry is when it is just the norm, you know?

Lopez: Right. When I first started, one of the things that I wanted to do, because I was Puerto Rican, Latina, was that I wanted to be in romantic comedies because I felt like all the women in romantic comedies always looked the same way, they were always White. And I was like, if I can do it and just show that I'm every girl—because I am the hopeless romantic, I am that—I am the single working woman, I was those things. And I remember thinking, I need to be the lead in a romantic comedy. And that's one of the things I went for and that's one of the things me and my agents talked about.

Nyong'o: That's the thing—when the race of the person in the romantic comedy is not the point. There are moments when the cultural group or the religious group or the national group is the subject matter, and there are moments when it's not, and both are radical, you know? So like with Jordan in the horror genre, not often do you have Black characters in the fore. So he is revolutionizing that genre—that Black people don't die first in his films. And [race] is really not the point. What is the point is that it's an examination of class and privilege. The family that we are following is representational of the all-American family. And that you can relate to that person just as much as I related to Fräulein Maria in “The Sound of Music.” That it is possible that we can see ourselves in the people who are different from us, from other cultures, other creeds.

To hear more from Nyong'o on diversity and inclusion, watch the video below, courtesy of THR: