Lupita Nyong’o has spoken out on colorism and self-love several times and her maiden children’s book Sulwe delivers that message aptly to young and old readers alike. Giant streaming platform Netflix announced Thursday that it is bringing the book to life in an animated musical and we are all here for it.
Sulwe, which means Star in the Lou language, centers around Sulwe, a dark-skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty as she comes to terms with her dark skin.
Nyong’o noted that in her native Kenya, there is an explicit preference for people with lighter shades even in the overwhelmingly Black-skinned country.
It was illustrated by Vashti Harrison and with this being her first book, Nyong’o hopes to inspire young Black children to appreciate and accept their uniqueness.
A statement released on Thursday by the ‘12 Years A Slave’ actress reiterated how personal the book was to her indicating that Sulwe is close to her heart being a victim of colorism herself. “Growing up, I was uncomfortable in my dark skin,” she said. “I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in the aspirational pages of books and magazines, or even on TV. It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love.”
She continued, “Sulwe is a mirror for dark-skinned children to see themselves, a window for those who may not be familiar with colorism, to have understanding and empathy, and an invitation for all who feel different and unseen to recognize their innate beauty and value.
“I am thrilled that the book is being adapted into an animated musical that we hope inspires children all around the world to celebrate their uniqueness.”
Last year, Lupita had a special homecoming for Sulwe in East Africa with new editions in her native language Luo and widely spoken Swahili.
The Oscar-winning actress shared the news on Twitter hoping that the message of Sulwe “can travel the world for readers of all ages, but it’s especially meaningful to bring it home”.
“#Sulwe is coming home! You can now find editions in Kenya in English, Swahili & my mother tongue, Luo. My childhood inspired Sulwe’s story,” she wrote at the time.
Nyong’o is an outspoken voice on issues of racism and colorism. Since her breakout appearance in 2013’s “12 Years A Slave”, she has used her platform to channel the movement aimed at collapsing racial prejudice.
Often, she draws on her experiences as a young Black woman in spaces with people who do not look like her. Nyong’o went to the United States from Kenya although she was born in Mexico where she lived for several years.