Two possibilities arise for Lupita Nyong’o: ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Americanah’


Actresses Adele Exarchopoulos, Lea Seydoux, Margot Robbie, singer Rihanna, actresses Lupita Nyong’o, Elizabeth Olsen, Bella Heathcote and Elle Fanning attend the Miu Miu show as part of the Paris Fashion Week. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

No matter how many times we  obsessively refresh Lupita Nyong’o’s IMDB page, it stays exactly the same.

That could change soon.

There’s no shortage of guesses about what the “12 Years a Slave” actress could be working on next. Her brother, Peter, showed support for casting Nyong’o as Storm in the next “X-Men” movie. That could just be a pipe dream.

These two possibilities actually have legs:

“Americanah”

Americanah” is the novel by writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that recently won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. The winners were announced last week in a ceremony at the New School. The novel tells the story of a Nigerian immigrant, Ifemelu, who left her home country to come to America on a college scholarship, and it explores the differences between being African in America versus being African-American. It’s an experience that Nyong’o could possibly identify with: the Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised Oscar winner came to the United States to study at Hampshire College, where she earned her undergraduate degree, and Yale, where she received a masters in acting.

“Lupita was a very early fan of Americanah,” Adichie told Arise Entertainment 360. “And so before she was sort of well-known in the way that she is now, she wrote me … the loveliest email, a very long and passionate email about ‘Americanah.’”

Adichie was already a superstar author thanks to the success and critical acclaim of her books “Half a Yellow Sun” and “Purple Hibiscus.” She was awarded a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 2008. “Half a Yellow Sun,” slated for domestic release in July, has been adapted into a feature film starring Thandie Newton and Nyongo’s “12 Years” co-star, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Then Beyoncé sampled her TEDx talk, “We Should All Be Feminists” on her latest album, “BEYONCÉ.”

And now Adichie may have just leaked a hint of Nyong’o’s next project:

“I’m going to do the mysterious thing and say that Lupita might be making an announcement very soon,” Adichie said coyly, her smile widening. “I don’t know. That announcement might be about Americanah.”

Nyong’o could make an ideal choice for Ifemelu, not just because of her acting chops, but also because of the controversy surrounding Newton’s casting in “Half a Yellow Sun,” both because of her light skin, and because Newton is not Nigerian (her mother is a black Zimbabwean, her father a white Englishman). When Swedish film critic Jannike Ahlund viewed the movie, she exclaimed, “She is very white!” referring to Newton. Adichie was called upon to respond, AlterNet reported.

Given Nyong’o’s recent success, she is practically unassailable, so it’s doubtful that her not being Nigerian like Ifemelu would matter as much.

“Star Wars: Episode VII”

The Hollywood Reporter is saying that Nyong’o met with J.J. Abrams just before the Academy Awards, a sign that he could be interested in her for “Star Wars: Episode VII.” Nyongo’s name had been mentioned as a possibility for Tiger Lily in “Pan,” but that role went to Rooney Mara. There’s little clarity about who Nyong’o would play in “Star Wars,” given the secrecy surrounding the film.

At Forbes, Alex Knapp argues that the new “Star Wars” film should be built around Nyong’o:

… There’s a second, and I think, far more important reason why Nyong’o should have the starring role in the next Star Wars. That’s because Star Wars is iconic. It’s part of American culture. Beyond American culture, in fact – all three of the prequel trilogy movies had a higher box office internationally than they had in the U.S. Even people who have never seen a Star Wars movie probably know phrases like “May the Force be with you” and could identify a lightsaber.

So taking that iconic part of American culture and making movies that tell the story of a young black woman is a cultural game changer.

All we can do is wait.


H/t Shadow and Act

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read National
Next Story
Terrence McCoy · March 17