Oscars 2014: Watch Lupita Nyong’o’s Emotional Acceptance Speech

The actress won for 12 Years a Slave

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A year ago, most of the world hadn’t heard of Lupita Nyong’o — but in her acceptance speech for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar she just took home for her work in 12 Years a Slave, she reminded viewers that there’s a long history behind how she got to that stage.

“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s,” she said in reference to Patsey, the slave she portrayed in the acclaimed film, which was based on a real-life memoir.

(PHOTOS: TIME’s Portraits of the Winning Actors from the 2014 Oscars)

In addition to thanking the usual Academy Awards suspects — castmates, her drama school, the Academy — she drew attention to the real people whose stories she helped bring to the big screen: Speaking to director Steve McQueen, she noted that the dead are watching, and that she believes “they are grateful” that he brought their history back to life.

(PHOTOSCelebrities Walk the Oscars Red Carpet)

But her speech didn’t just stick to the past. In a tear-jerking conclusion, she expressed her wish that her unknown-to-Oscars trajectory would inspire someone watching at home to go for it — because, as she explained: “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

Watch her speech above.

(MORE: Give All the Awards to Lupita Nyong’o for Her Inspirational Speech About Beauty)

More: Lupita Nyong’o shot by photographer Sebastian Kim for TIME

25 comments
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BrentSyllimnia
BrentSyllimnia

First of all Lupito did nothing to win that Oscar. I saw "12 Years A Slave" and feel that due to his work that Chiwetel Ejofor made that movie. Lupito's three brief scenes were not deserving of an Oscar. It just happened to the fact that her family is wealthy and big people in the entertainment field. However, the Oscar should be awarded to the person that works the hardest regardless of education and family background. The movie wasn't all that good it mimics after "Roots." But the next movie that comes his way Chiwetel will receive the recognition he deserves.

IvanButcherII
IvanButcherII

Being the darkest in my family, I was told about the sweeter black berries. And, in order to get ahead in this world, I would have to work twice as hard.


When I was a youth, I would take potential girl friends to meet my grand mother, and she would say, "Beauty is, what Beauty does."


She reminds me of my Mother, so Beautiful!

divashalo
divashalo

lupita is so humble and gracious - this girl is impossible not to love and has a long and promising career ahead of her. salud!

DiamondOly
DiamondOly

Proudly Kenyan, though can't watch the video here as you have restricted it to the US and its territories...not fair...

ShawnSmith
ShawnSmith

amazing performance and your speech was heartfelt...thank you all!

andrewwhite2
andrewwhite2

damn those invisible onion cutting ninjas

philipclewis
philipclewis

Well done Lupita you are a great example for all young girls in Africa.You are a shinning light in a continent where often there is darkness.Never let Hollywood change you.Watch her in the first series of SHUGA

immargarita
immargarita

She's impossible not to LOVE!  Her acting, her face, her figure, her sincerity, everything!  May we see lots more of her through the ages!  

goodqarmas
goodqarmas

I teared and cheered! Well deserved and a beautiful speech.

Aissatou
Aissatou

@goodqarmas I join you. I had forgotten about Hattie McDaniels. She was the first to win an Oscar and was also playing a character enslaved. It was the 40s. She was accepted her speech, but was sitting in the back at a table which was segregated. I bring her up because Lupita reminded me of her dignity, her strength, and yet, Lupita was this generation. She acknowledged whose sorrow she stands on in all of these accolades and dream like experiences of the last couple of weeks, months. She acknowledged the little girls, who now have something else to dream of becoming. I am so proud of her. So very, very proud.