Lupita Amondi Nyong'o was born March 1, 1983 in Mexico City, Mexico, to Kenyan parents, Dorothy Ogada Buyu and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o. Her father, a senator, was then a visiting lecturer in political science. She was raised in Kenya. At age 16, her parents sent her back to Mexico for seven months to learn Spanish. She read film studies at Hampshire College, Massachusetts and, after working as a production assistant on several films, graduated from the Yale School of Drama's acting program. In 2013, she impressed cinema audiences in her film debut, as brutalized slave Patsey in acclaimed director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave (2013). She was also the lead in MTV's award-winning drama series, Shuga (2009), appeared in the thriller Non-Stop (2014) and had roles in the big-budget films Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and The Jungle Book (2016).
Lupita's stage credits include playing "Perdita" in "The Winter's Tale", (Yale Repertory Theater), "Sonya" in "Uncle Vanya", "Katherine" in "The Taming of the Shrew", as well as being in the original production of Michael Mitnick's "Elijah".
Lupita played the female lead, Nakia, in the 2018 superhero film Black Panther (2018).