Dozens of 2020 Primetime Emmy nominees are celebrating their first-ever nods. Among them is Kenyan actress and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o who has been nominated for her narration in Serengeti.
The 12 Years A Slave actress has been nominated alongside global stars Kareem Abdul, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Angela Bassett and David Attenborough in the Outstanding Narrator Category.
Major Lupita Nyong’o’s Awards
The nominees for this 72nd edition of the Emmys were unveiled this week via live stream.
The Emmys, which are television’s equivalent of the Oscars, will take place on September 20 and will be the first major awards show in Hollywood since the coronavirus crisis began.
Last year Lupita Nyong’o become the first African woman to narrate a documentary for Go Discovery. The docuseries followed the heartwarming and harrowing tales of wildlife living within Tanzania’s largest national park.
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The Oscar winner narrated the six-part series, produced by Emmy-winning filmmakers Simon Fuller and John Downer, who also directed the show. Having visited plenty of safaris throughout her lifetime, Lupita Nyong’o said she was overwhelmed by the majesty of Africa’s nearly untouched plains.
However, it was the uncanny similarities many of the animals in the Serengeti shared with mankind, as well as the dramatic moments that filled their day-to-day lives, that made her feel even more connected to her home country and all the inhabitants there.
The Black Panther star is very passionate about wildlife conservation. Last year, she was honoured by WildAid, the global conservation organization leading the fight to end the illegal wildlife trade, as a Wildlife Champion.
Lupita’s talent and passion has earned her various coveted accolades including BET and Oscar Awards. She also boasts of gracing the covers of various publications such as British Vogue and Ms among others. She recently launched her debut book Sulwe, which it is getting favourable reviews.
Lupita Nyon’go’s Nominations
In addition, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play and a Distinguished Performance Award at the Drama League Award for her performance.
In 2018, Lupita co-starred in superhero film Black Panther, which earned her multiple award nominations, including BET Awards for Best Actress, NAACP Image Award, for Best Supporting Actress, and a Saturn Award for Best Actress.
The following year, she starred and earned nominations for her dual role in Us, which included a Critics Choice Award for Best Actress, two MTV Movie Awards, a NAACP Image Award for Best Actress which she won, two People’s Choice Awards, a Saturn Award for Best Actress, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress.
Nyong’o started her career working as part of the production crew for several films, including Fernando Meirelles’s The Constant Gardener (2005), Mira Nair’s The Namesake (2006), and Salvatore Stabile’s Where God Left His Shoes (2007). She cites Ralph Fiennes, the British star of The Constant Gardener, as someone who inspired her to pursue a professional acting career.
In 2008, Nyong’o starred in the short film East River, directed by Marc Grey and shot in Brooklyn. She returned to Kenya that same year and appeared in the Kenyan television series Shuga, an MTV Base Africa/UNICEF drama about HIV/AIDS prevention. In 2009, she wrote, directed, and produced the documentary In My Genes, about the discriminatory treatment of Kenya’s albino population.
It played at several film festivals and won first prize at the 2008 Five College Film Festival. Nyong’o also directed the music video “The Little Things You Do” by Wahu, featuring Bobi Wine, which was nominated for the Best Video Award at the MTV Africa Music Awards 2009.
Nyong’o enrolled in a master’s degree program in acting at the Yale School of Drama. At Yale, she appeared in many stage productions, including Gertrude Stein’s Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, and William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter’s Tale. While at Yale, she won the Herschel Williams Prize in the 2011–12 academic year for “acting students with outstanding ability”.
Lupita Nyong’o’s Film and stage breakthrough (2013–2015)
Immediately after graduating from Yale, Nyong’o landed her breakthrough role when she was cast for Steve McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years a Slave (2013). The film, which met with wide critical acclaim, is based on the life of Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free-born African-American man of upstate New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in Washington, DC, in 1841.
Nyong’o played the role of Patsey, a slave who works alongside Northup at a Louisiana cotton plantation; her performance met with rave reviews. Ian Freer of Empire wrote that she “gives one of the most committed big-screen debuts imaginable,” and critic Peter Travers added that she “is a spectacular young actress who imbues Patsey with grit and radiant grace”.
Lupita now becomes the third black woman to be nominated in the category for the Emmy Award for her narration as an Outstanding Narrator. She was also been nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Character Voice-Over Performance.