With the help of celebrity haistylist Vernon François, Lupita Nyong’o regularly turns heads on the red carpet with a variety of fabulous ‘dos, but the Mexican-Kenyan actress recently reflected on a time when her hair wasn’t so popular while living in Mexico.
“It was such a bizarre, dire time for my hair,” she told Allure. The actress is the cover star of the magazine’s Culture of Hair issue, on newsstands Feb. 20. “I was living in a small town where there was not any semblance of an African community. I’d have to take the bus to Mexico City to find a woman who could braid my hair. That was two and a half hours away,” she said.
The Academy Award-winning actress, who was born in Mexico City but raised in Kenya, told the glossy that her parents sent her back to Mexico at the age of sixteen to learn Spanish at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México’s Learning Center for Foreigners, which is when she endured a dearth of salons familiar with her type of hair. Nyong’o spent seven months in the country and has put those Spanish classes to good use, often speaking fluently in the romance language while being interviewed by Laitno or Hispanic media outlets.
Her hair is not the only thing that has generated quizzical looks. Back in 2014, when her star began to soar after winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave, fans and commentators frequently speculated and debated her national orgins, compelling her to firmly clarify in an interview with El Mañana: “I’m Mexican and Kenyan at the same time. I’ve seen the quarrels over my nationality, but I’m Kenyan and Mexican at the same time. So again, I am Mexican-Kenyan and I am fascinated by carne asada tacos.”