Lupita Nyong’o is writing a children’s book with a beautiful message

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Sonya Barber
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Lupita Nyong’o’s debut publication is all about self-acceptance.

We’re delighted to hear the news that Lupita Nyong’o is currently working on her first children’s book, to be called Sulwe.

The New York Times announced that the Academy-award winning actress, and voice of Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is writing a story about a five-year-old Kenyan girl named Sulwe. 

Sulwe is self-conscious about how dark her skin is compared to her family, and she becomes determined to lighten it. She sets off on a journey and, over the course of the tale, and with the help of her mother, she comes to see herself and beauty differently. 

Nyong’o announced the news on Instagram with a post saying: “Sulwe is a dark skinned girl who goes on a starry-eyed adventure, and awakens with a reimagined sense of beauty.

“She encounters lessons that we learn as children and spend our lives unlearning. This is a story for little ones, but no matter the age I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin.”

Sulwe, which means “star” in Nyong’o’s native language, Luo, is based on the actress’ own childhood issues with self-image. The New York Times reports that: “Growing up, she remembers becoming more aware of herself in grade school and caring about the opinions of others. It was around that time that she also noticed the language people outside of her family used to describe her ‘brown and pretty’, lighter skinned sister.”

In 2014, Nyong’o candidly spoke during her unforgettable acceptance speech at the Essence Awards about being self-conscious of her skin colour. She said: “I remember a time when I too felt un-beautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin and my one prayer to God the miracle worker was that I would wake up lighter skinned.”

She went on to say that seeing the success of model Alek Wek was a transformative moment for her: “I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome, and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t.”

She concluded: “You can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What actually sustains us, what is fundamentally beautiful, is compassion for yourself, and for those around you that kind of beauty. That kind of beauty inflames the heart. And enchants the soul.”

And if the reactions on Twitter are anything to go by, people feel her book will have that same effect on generations of children to come:

We couldn’t agree more.

Sulwe is out in January 2019, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Image: Rex Features