Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o says she chose Broadway play “Eclipsed” instead of chasing Hollywood parts because it meant more to her than playing a role in a movie.
The play, written by ‘The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira, features an all-black, female cast and the 33-year-old actress said she found the story of five women, who during the Liberian civil war in 2003 are trapped by rebel commander, an important narrative.
“Eclipsed” has been nominated for six Tony Awards and has been garnering praise for the actress.
Writing for Lenna Dunham’s Lenny Letter, Nyong’o said during her last round of press, she was asked “Why would such a big star choose to do such a small play?”, which felt silly to her.
“This question felt quite silly. I mean, I’m an actress; why wouldn’t I want to be in an incredible, gorgeous, meaty piece about the complicated choices of women during wartime? But then it went deeper than that. 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,” the “12 Years A Slave” star wrote.
The actress said perhaps there is more value given to Hollywood roles but she was bothered by the way success is perceived in society.
“I think as women, as women of color, as black women, too often we hear about what we ‘need to do.’ How we need tobehave, what we need to wear, what’s deemed as too much or not enough, the cultural politics of what society considers appropriate for us and for our lives.
“What I am learning is that the most important questions you can ask yourself are ‘What do I want?’ and ‘Who do I want to become?’.”
Nyong’o says stars like Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, and Viola Davis inspire her as they are “fearless” actresses and “Eclipsed” gave her a chance to explore this, which was more fulfilling than playing an inconsequential role in Hollywood.
“So often women of color are relegated to playing simple tropes: the sidekick, the best friend, the noble savage, or the clown. We are confined to being a simple and symbolic peripheral character — one who doesn’t have her own journey or emotional landscape.
“I am proud of my decision to take the time to sit with myself and not get caught up in what others want for me.”