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Lupita Nyong'o Was Bullied as Child for Her Skin Color

February 28, 2014, 2:44 pm GMT

There were days when the actress prayed to God wishing that she would have lighter skin the next day.

Lupita Nyong'o

Even Lupita Nyong'o did not escape being bullied as a child. Born in Mexico, raised in Kenya and educated in the United States, the 30-year-old revealed during Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon on Thursday, February 27 that she used to be teased for her skin color.

"I got teased and taunted about my skin," Nyong'o said. My one prayer to God was that I would wake up lighter skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of the mirror because I wanted to see my face first. Every day I would feel the disappointment of being just as dark as the day before."

However, things changed when she learned about supermodel Alex Wek, who is also dark-skinned. "She was dark as night and was in all the magazines and on runways," the Oscar nominee said. "My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome. I couldn't believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn't help but bloom inside of me."

By telling her story, the "12 Years a Slave" star hoped to inspire women like her. "I hope that my presence on your screen and my face in magazines may lead you, young girls, on a beautiful journey," she said. "That you will feel the validation of your external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside."

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