On Inside the Actors Studio, Lupita Nyong’o got emotional when speaking about her first ever movie role in 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. Nyong’o won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her depiction of Patsey, a slave who is raped and brutalized by her master. And it was all too clear that the role of Patsey has stuck with Nyong’o years after filming.
Nyong’o admitted that she’s only seen 12 Years a Slave twice. When asked why, she fought back tears and answered, “Because, you know, that pain.”
Nyong’o fought off the tears as long as she could but was overcome with emotion. She continued, “That pain, I’m so grateful for it because it’s … I never take my time in this country for granted because of it.”
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Nyong’o, who was born in Mexico but raised in Kenya, said that the only thing separating her from Patsey’s experience is time, and that the chance to play her was sobering and meaningful.
“To have had the chance to represent a time in history that is so often overlooked is deeply meaningful to me,” Nyong’o said. “And often times people ask me, ‘How did you get over it?’ Of course I didn’t. It’s very clear I didn’t. But I’m the better for it.”