Our Amondi? Yes, she was a star from start!
The Nairobi roots of Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o came to life as family, friends and acquaintances came together to celebrate her success.
Gathered in a thanksgiving service at the Ridgeways Baptist Church, the crowd remembered Lupita as the little girl who always entertained guests at their home.
Fondly known to close family members and friends as Amondi – which means born very early in the morning — she was the singer, the actor and the life of every family gathering.
Therefore, it was only a matter of when and not if Hollywood would discover her.
Lupita’s father, the former Cabinet minister Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, said Lupita started showing signs of acting at kindergarten, when she was just three years old.
“I remember we went to a parent’s day at Waridi Day Nursery School in Westlands in the mid-Eighties and she led a team of toddlers onto the stage with a beautiful marching song,” said the Kisumu senator.
Her parents recalled how Lupita danced so well, much to the amazement of her dazed parents. Her acting career would crystalise at Rusinga School, and later when she made her debut at Phoenix Theatre and St. Mary’s School.
“We have watched her develop this talent and passion from Waridi Day Nursery School, through Loreto Convent Msongari, Rusinga School and St. Mary’s School, before proceeding to Hampshire College and Yale University,” said Lupita’s proud mother Dorothy.
Lupita’s family and friends have continued to follow every step of her glowing Hollywood career. From watching the movie in which she has made her name, 12 Years a Slave, to waking up in the dead of the night to watch her live on the red carpet during the Golden Globe awards, to anxiously looking forward to the Oscars in March; they have not missed a single article about their little girl.
Lupita plays a supporting role in the movie as Patsey, a slave woman abused by her master and despised and tormented by the master’s wife. The portrayal attracted international attention and won Lupita many accolades, the latest being her nomination as nominated as best supporting actress in the Oscars.
“I watched the movie and I could not possibly believe that our daughter, little Lupita was actually in that movie. It was not easy to sit through the grueling scenes. I couldn’t help but feel that those characters were being so mean to our little girl, then I remembered it was a movie, not real life,” said Nyong’o.
Lupita’s younger sister Fiona recalled at the celebration, on Sunday, how hard she would practice to be where she is today.
“She always knew acting is what she wanted to do and she did it,” said Fiona.
When Lupita is not coaching US chat show host Jimmy Kimmel on how to pronounce her name correctly, she is exchanging warm hugs with Oprah Winfrey and popping up on red carpets looking every bit the Yale-trained Hollywood star she has become.
The 30-year old Kenyan actress is now working on her next project —a big studio thriller called Non-Stop, with Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore, which premiers on February 25.