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Lupita Nyong'o talks about praying for lighter skin

"12 Years a Slave" star Lupita Nyong'o once prayed for lighter skin
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

"12 Years a Slave" actress Lupita Nyong'o has accomplished the impossible during awards season by stealing the spotlight away from internet darling Jennifer Lawrence. However, Lupita didn't always feel so deserving of being admired.

According to a Feb. 28 report by Essence, the stunning star talked about her beauty insecurities during her speech at Essence's Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, where she accepted the award for Best Breakthrough Performance. Lupita revealed that she received a letter from a girl who decided not to lighten her skin after seeing how comfortable Lupita is in her own. The "12 Years a Slave" star always looks confident and flawless on the red carpet, and her skin is absolutely radiant. However, she confessed that she once considered lightening her own skin to fit what she thought was a beauty ideal.

"I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful," she said. "I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned." She even tried to bargain with God by promising to stop stealing sugar cubes at night, but her prayers went unanswered.

Of course Lupita Nyong'o's mother tried to convince her that she was perfect just the way she was, but a teenaged Lupita knew that most mothers see their daughters as being beautiful no matter what. However, something finally changed the way that she saw herself. "And then…Alek Wek," she said. "A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn't believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful."

This is definitely proof that black celebrities can make a positive impact on young women by embracing their natural skin color. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of dark-skinned celebrities in Hollywood. There also aren't many celebs who are brave enough to chop off all their hair, and Lupita has an awesome reason for rocking her short locks. During an interview with Glamour, she talked about how her stylish cut came to be. "The first time I cut all my hair off was when I was 19," she said. "I just got fed up going to the salon every week. I’d had enough! On a whim, it was off. It’s low-maintenance." She's kept her hair super-short ever since, but she still finds innovative ways to change it up. In the photo here, she's wearing a stylish skinny headband.

In case you're wondering what Lupita uses to make her gorgeous skin glow, she told Glamour that she's a fan of simple, natural products. She uses avocado oil and Hawaiian kukui oil to moisturize her face, and she's never worn a lot of makeup. However, she's having fun experimenting with bright, bold colors now that she's a red carpet darling.

This time last year, you probably had no idea who Lupita Nyong'o was. However, now she might just be the star who everyone is looking forward to seeing most on the red carpet at the Academy Awards (sorry, J-Law).

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