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Lupita Nyong’o backstage at the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards

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The 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards took place on Jan. 18, 2014, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Here is what this Screen Actors Guild Award winner said backstage in the Screen Actors Guild Awards press room.

LUPITA NYONG’O

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

("12 Years a Slave")

12 Years a Slave” is an intense and difficult movie to watch, but do you still think it teaches people about what happened during slavery in the past, not just in America but also all over the world?

Yes, I think slavery is an institution that infected a lot more than the United States of America. It affected Africa, for sure, and Europe and Eurasia. And so it’s still an issue today, so it’s a very apt subject to think about and to consider.

It’s still a mystery what happened to Solomon Northup after he escaped slavery and wrote “12 Years a Slave.” Do you have any insight or clues about what happened to him?

No, I don’t. When I was doing the research, I wasn’t really interested in getting the research in the same way that a historian would get information. My interest was getting into this period of time in any way that would enlighten Patsey [my “12 Years a Slave” character] to me. So mine was very subjective research.

You’ve become a fashion icon this season. Do you feel any pressure picking your outfits to wear at these big awards shows? And have you started to think about what you’re going to wear to the Oscars?

No, I actually don’t feel pressure, because for me, my first love is acting. And that’s where my focus is. I love the opportunity I’ve had to learn about the fashion world, to appreciate it as an art form. And I look forward to my continued education, but I never want it to take over my acting.

How difficult was it to experience the things that you did in “12 Years a Slave”?

I couldn’t sentimentalize the pain that I would have to go through, because I had the privilege of doing it in an imaginary world. I was representing someone who actually lived through those atrocities. So being aware of that made it very practical and very doable — not to say that it was easy, but I was privileged to do so.

For more info: Screen Actors Guild Awards website

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