She also reveals she had "zero clue" what to do after her Oscar win

By Colleen Kratofil
March 11, 2016 01:30 PM

It may be hard to believe that Lupita Nyong’o has any “firsts” left to accomplish after her whirlwind last few years (after all, she won an Oscar for her first-ever feature film), but it’s true: She’s starring in her first Broadway play and just landed her first
cover. And the actress gets candid with the magazine about her hair (why she took the plunge to go bald!) and why she had “zero clue” what to do after her Oscar win.

Courtesy InStyle

We’ve always known Nyong’o with short hair, but she initially had hesitations about the length. “I wasn’t sure if I could pull off [the bald look],” she tells InStyle. “Because hair is the frame of the face, right? And we spend so much time on it, trying to get it perfect. It often defines one’s beauty and feminine value.”

But eventually took the plunge. “Almost on a whim, I was like, ‘What if I didn’t have it?’ And so I shaved it all off — I was a complete baldy!” she says. “It was shocking at first, especially for my mom. But I learned to embrace my features. And I like myself a lot more now that I’m not constantly fussing over my hair.”

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She also discusses another major milestone in her life — the 2014 Academy Awards. “Right after the Oscars, I had no idea what I was going to do next. Zero clue,” she reveals. “There’s part of me that thought my life would go back to normal. Like at school. But it didn’t. I did not get out of that unscathed, you know?”

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Well, even if she has a few scars to show for her first award season, she’s recovered nicely: She just starred in the mega-hit movie,
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
(and is joining the next installment!); she recently lent her voice to the upcoming Disney remake of The Jungle Book; and is currently starring in the Broadway political drama
(the first Broadway show ever to feature a female writer, director and all-female cast. Yes, in 2016.).

The play (which focuses on Liberia’s civil war) marks Nyong’o’s Broadway debut, and she’s using the jitters to her advantage. “I like to put myself in risky situations — at least in terms of challenging myself,” she says. “I do my best when I’m intimidated by confronting the unknown.”

She also understands the only way to embrace a new situation is to not be afraid of criticism: “I’m never going to allow any type of [failure] to be the definition of my talent or my skill or me.”

The April issue of
hits newsstands on Friday, March 18. What do you think of her dress? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

— Colleen Kratofil