Lupita Nyong'o has won the Academy Award for supporting actress in her role as Patsey, a favored but abused slave in the Steve McQueen-directed drama "12 Years a Slave."
The win follows Nyong'o taking the same award at the Screen Actors Guild awards, a good barometer of Oscar winners. This is the first Academy Award for the Mexico City-born, Kenyan-raised actress. She has also won the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. Award for the role, as well as a number of regional accolades from critics/groups in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Phoenix and more. Nyong'o was three weeks shy of graduating from Yale Drama School when she was cast by McQueen.
"12 Years a Slave" centers on the story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man in the North who is abducted and sold into slavery in the South. Nyong'o's Patsey, a standout slave for Michael Fassbender's plantation owner, is raped and beaten, all while trying to find a shred of dignity to cling to. The film was nominated for best picture, and director McQueen and costars Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor are also Oscar nominees.
Before starring in McQueen's film, Nyong'o acted onstage in "The Winter's Tale," "Uncle Vanya" and "The Taming of the Shrew." Nyong'o recently hit the big screen alongside Liam Neeson in Jaume Collet-Serra's thriller "Non-Stop."