By Eric Kelsey
LOS ANGELES, March 2 An emotional Lupita Nyong'o
won the Oscar for best supporting actress on Sunday for her role
as the hardworking slave Patsey in drama "12 Years a Slave,"
capping a breakout awards season for the Yale-trained Kenyan
Nyong'o, 31, won the Oscar in her first feature film role,
earning a thunderous standing ovation from the Hollywood
audience. She beat fellow frontrunner Jennifer Lawrence's
portrayal of a loopy housewife in caper "American Hustle" in one
of the most closely-watched Academy Award races this year.
"Yes!" the actress exclaimed when accepting the award after
hugging her brother, "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen
and other actors in the film.
"It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my
life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's, and so I want
to salute the spirit of Patsey, for her guidance."
Nyong'o, who earned the same award from her peers at the
Screen Actors Guild Awards in January, was chosen for the role
from some 1,000 young actresses who auditioned.
"When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me
and every little child that no matter where you're from your
dreams are valid," Nyong'o said, with tears in her eyes.
The Oscar marks Nyong'o's coronation into the top echelon of
dramatic actresses working in Hollywood.
"I'm a little dazed, I can't believe this (award) is in my
hands, I can't believe this is real life, I'm just really
overwhelmed," Nyong'o told reporters backstage.
'JOY OF MY LIFE'
"What I have learned for myself is that I don't have to be
anybody else and myself is good enough and that when I'm being
true to myself, I can avail myself to extraordinary things such
as this," Nyong'o added.
The actress has also become a new emblem of high fashion
with her styles on the red carpet. Her light blue halter-neck
Prada grown, which the actress helped design herself, wowed at
"12 Years a Slave," by British director McQueen, is based on
the memoir of Solomon Northup, a 19th century free black man
tricked and sold into slavery.
Nyong'o gave her strongest thank-you onstage to McQueen for
casting the formerly little-known actress in the role.
"This has been the joy of my life," she said. "I'm certain
the dead are standing about you and watching and they are
grateful, and so am I."
Nyong'o's Patsey, who is able to pick more pounds (kilos) of
cotton per day than the stronger male slaves, embodies
resilience in the drama even as the primary recipient of
physical and sexual violence.
"There was an underlying stream of grief at all times even
in the lighter scenes," Nyong'o said last year while promoting
the film. "There is a deep pain in Patsey throughout and living
in that pain was not easy."