Lupita Nyong’o Is PEOPLE’s Magazine Most Beautiful

Lupita Nyong’o seems to be having a pretty good year, She won an Oscar for her role as the slave, Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and just recently, landed a contract with Lancôme Paris, but one thing she didn’t dream of was to be touted as “Most Beautiful” for all the world to see.

“It was exciting and just a major, major compliment,” the 31-year-old says of gracing this year’s cover. And especially, “I was happy for all the girls who would see me on it and feel a little more seen.”

Lupita Nyong’o was Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, She first equated beauty with what she saw on television: “Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair,” she says. “Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess.” Her mother, Dorothy, who is the managing director and head of PR for the Africa Cancer Foundation, “always said I was beautiful,” Nyong’o adds. “And I finally believed her at some point.”

When Lupita was a teen, she dyed her hair every color – except blonde – and even went as far as shaving her head bald. “It was very strange and very cold!” she says, laughing. “It was scary but I like to dare myself.”

Now she says the best compliments are “when I have been called beautiful with not one drop of makeup on,” she adds. “And also before I comb my hair or put on a pretty dress. Happiness is the most important thing.”

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