Kenya: Lupita Wades Into Melanism in Debut Book, Sulwe

Lupita Nyongo reveals her 'Sulwe' book cover.
20 October 2019

Popular Kenyan-Mexican Actress, Lupita Nyong'o, has released her debut children's book, Sulwe, which tackles the issue of skin pigmentation and its acceptance among children of colour.

In celebration of its launch, Nyong'o said on her Twitter account that the book is to help children to become confident and comfortable with their natural skin colours.

"#Sulwe is out today& in honor of her debut, I wanted to take you back to the day she was born fir me: Just days before the 2014 Oscars, I gave a speech at Essence Magazine's Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.

"For a surreal, nerve-wracking five minutes, I spoke to a room full of black women about my own struggle to find beauty in my dark skin... In the aftermath of this open-hearted public moment for me, I realised this message needed to be heard by our most vulnerable: the children," she said, reminiscing about the past experience that motivated her into writing the book.

#Sulwe is out today & in honor of her debut, I wanted to take you back to the day she was born for me. Just days before the 2014 #Oscars, I gave a speech at @Essence's Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon.(More on my next tweet ⬇️)#BrightnessIsJustWhoYouAre

- Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) October 15, 2019

The award-winning actress in a recent interview with "Good Morning America" said that seeing light-skinned people on TV and in books affected her self-esteem as a young girl.

"When I was younger, I had trouble accepting my skin. I grew up in Kenya around very many dark people, but I grew up with a lot of light skin on TV and in the books I read. And it made me feel uncomfortable with my skin colour," she declared.

Lupita Nyong'o said she would often hear her younger sister who had lighter skin, being told how pretty she was.

"I realise that it was in the omission of those words when it came to me, that made me feel unworthy and it took a while for me to find my stride and learn to love the skin I'm in.

"So, I wrote this book to help little kids get there a little faster," she said.

The Hollywood star said in a statement that her goal in writing Sulwe was to provide young children with a path towards seeing their own beauty, regardless of what society puts on them.

She said she was much like Sulwe because she often got teased and taunted about her night-shade skin.

Lupita wades into melanism in debut book, Sulwe

She urged people of colour to work more on being "beautiful inside."

According to the book's description, Sulwe has skin the "colour of midnight." She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

Lupita Nyong'o was born in Mexico but was raised in Kenya. She made her debut in Hollywood in '12 Years A Slave' in 2013 where she featured as Patsey, a slave woman who was consistently battered and abused by her white master. The role later won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

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