Lupita Nyong’o Answers Why She Chose Broadway Play Eclipsed “Over the Big Screen”
Lupita Nyong'o Answers She Chose Eclipsed"Over the Big Screen"
Yesterday, Lupita Nyong’o penned a piece for the Lenny newsletter titled “Why I Chose a ‘Small Play’ Over the Big Screen” in which she discusses her Broadway debut in the play Eclipsed, as well as her thoughts on choosing roles and representation. Eclipsed is the story of five women during the Liberian civil war (for the actress’ handwritten notes on the context, head to her Twitter). Nyong’o received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play—one of the six nominations the play received in its category, which also include Best Play (playwright Danai Gurira is the only woman nominated), Best Performance by a Featured Actress, Best Costume Design, and Best Direction.
Nyong’o’s piece begins with a question she received from a journalist: “Why would such a big star choose to do such a small play?” While the question sounds a bit silly, Nyong’o dives into some of the implications, saying “To me it felt like a question about our value system in this culture, the ways we define success for ourselves as well as others.” She goes on to say that as black woman, she feels the pressure of hearing what she “should” do in terms of roles that have “importance” or “larger value,” roles that might not necessarily be the “fully realized, complex character” that she wants to play.
She also dives into the difference between tropes and archetypes. I definitely recommend reading her whole essay. It’s not too long, but it’s a strong reflection on the importance of art like Eclipsed and the way we might receive certain media over others. Shadow and Act also did a great write-up titled “Lupita Nyong’o Doesn’t Need to Explain or Defend Her Career Choices,” which also discusses some of these pressures. Notably, it brings up commentary on the fact that many of her recent roles were done through voice acting, rather than live-action, alongside the need to respect Nyong’o’s decisions and judgement as an actor.
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