I hope Lupita Nyoung’o wins the Best Supporting Actress award tomorrow night. She deserves it. But there’s another reason: I want to hear her acceptance speech. Her speech at the Essence Awards this week was beautifully heartfelt, gracious, and wise. She talked very frankly about the difficulty of feeling beautiful with dark skin, and how she felt when she received a fan letter from a young girl who said she had been about to try a skin-lightening cream before she saw Nyoung’o and realized that it was possible to be dark-skinned and successful. Nyoung’o said:
What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.
And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.