In an exclusive interview with MEGA, award-winning actress and face of Calvin Klein Women Lupita Nyong’o shares what it means to be a woman of strength and integrity.
Perhaps no other actress in recent years has stirred up our collective imagination as much as Lupita Nyong’o—so much so that we hesitate to adorn her and her story with things like Hollywood, or Academy Award Winner or style star. It used to be that there were celebrities and there were actors. Nyong’o, with her film degrees, multiple languages and feminism, is definitely be in the latter, but the thirty-something Kenyan-Mexican doesn’t care for our labels or the idea that a woman should be one or the other. She can wear her Prada, Giambattista Valli and—of course—Calvin Klein, top it with bold lipstick and glitter liner and still be taken seriously and be herself, an artist, a feminist—a woman.
Apart from her obvious beauty—silky, dark complexion, delicate features and soulful eyes—Nyong’o is also celebrated for her intelligence and grace, whether she’s sharing her views on various women’s issues and politics, or talking about lipstick and perfume. It’s no wonder that, along with her fellow actor Saoirse Ronan, she was chosen to front the latest scent from Calvin Klein, aptly called Women. The fragrance, which celebrates the different facets of femininity via a unique blend of eucalyptus, orange blossom, black pepper, jasmine and magnolia, is the first scent from the brand’s new Chief Creative Officer, Raf Simons. The scent was crafted to communicate both the wearer’s individuality, as well as her part in a revolutionary collective—a perfect fit for the thoroughly modern Nyong’o. In an exclusive interview with MEGA, the actress shares her thoughts on beauty, representation and being a role model.
Many women look up to you. What does it mean to be seen as role model and inspiration to so many people?
It’s an incredible honor and opportunity. I try to keep myself open and curious. Life is about constantly learning, growing, adjusting and evolving, so I take time to work on myself so that I can in turn share my best self with those who look to me. I have a niece, and I’ve been watching her, and she learns from imitation—she learns from the things that she sees happening in the world. You see yourself clearer when you see yourself in someone else. That’s why it’s important to have representation in the media. I am grateful to be a dark-skinned woman with a platform. I definitely see more people that look like me in the media than I’ve ever seen before and I am delighted to represent for people who see themselves in me.
What part of the #IAMWOMEN campaign appealed to you the most?
I was drawn to the campaign’s celebration of both the individual and the collective. It encourages women to be unapologetically themselves, while simultaneously recognizing the strength in women championing other women.
You chose Eartha Kitt and Katherine Hepburn as your inspirations. If you could add two more women, who would they be and why did you choose them?
Eartha Kitt and Katharine Hepburn were women who defined their time by defying their time. In so doing, they paved the way for the rest of us. Both of them are extremely talented, but their influence went beyond their movies. When Hepburn chose to wear pants at a time when it was illegal for women, she changed more than just fashion; she became a symbol of female independence. Kitt was not only multi-talented, but she stood up for what she believed in when it wasn’t stylish to do so—speaking up against the Vietnam war and fighting for equal education.
My mother, Danai Gurira, and Janelle Monae. I turn to my mother for strength and guidance. I lean on Danai both creatively and personally. I marvel at Janelle’s artistry; she is always reflecting on herself and the world and figuring out how to contribute in creative ways.
What are the main things you look out for when you choose roles, whether in acting or being the new face of Calvin Klein Women?
In looking at potential roles, I do love a challenge. I don’t have to agree with a character, but I do have to believe that she represents something worth sharing with the world.
Calvin Klein Women has a distinctive scent. Describe the perfect occasion to wear it.
It’s so fresh and invigorating. While I think it truly is a scent that you can wear at all times, I’d say it’s great when you’re having one of those days and you need to work from the outside in, which we all do from time to time.
As seen on MEGA Magazine January 2019.