The star talks about her whirlwind year in NY Mag

By Alex Apatoff
Updated February 10, 2014 06:18 PM

Erik Madigan Heck/New York Magazine

At this time in 2013, Lupita Nyong’o wasn’t on fashion’s radar at all — but a lot can change in a year. Since her breakout role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave (and subsequent amazing red carpet tour) she’s landed a Vogue feature, a Miu Miu ad campaign and now the cover of New York Magazine‘s fashion issue. The headline? “Lupita Nyong’o: From Unknown to ‘It’ Girl In Less Than a Year.”

The actress talks about her wild roller coaster ride of a year, saying that she’s feeling “stressed but blessed — I mean, I couldn’t have dreamed this up.” But making major adjustments is nothing new for Nyong’o, whose family moved from Kenya to Mexico and back again when she was a child — and who had to get used to the freedom of American university after a very regimented childhood.

“I find my freedom in structure. It was very hard to adjust to an individualistic and very liberal system,” she said of her first years in school here. “I mean, my upbringing, I would iron my clothes every night. I would plan what I wore the night before, and then I would iron it. That’s just the way my mom raised us. Then I got to Hampshire, where clothing is sometimes optional and all this kind of thing. I was mortified.”

Credit: Erik Madigan Heck/New York Magazine

Erik Madigan Heck/New York Magazine

Though the star’s red carpet collaboration with Micaela Erlanger has gotten her plenty of buzz, she’s still keeping that aspect of her life under wraps. “I don’t know why, but I like to keep that part of it very intimate and very small.” But she’s at least trying to enjoy the ride, as surreal as it may be. And we’re getting some super-gorgeous photos out of it at the same time.

For lots more from the star, visit, and tell us: What has been your favorite Nyong’o red carpet moment so far? What would you like to see her wear to the Oscars?

–Alex Apatoff