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Lupita Nyong'o Lands Her First Vogue Cover, Compares Red Carpet to 'War Zone'

June 19, 2014, 3:58 pm GMT

The '12 Years a Slave' actress says she didn't really realize her rising celebrity status until she was swarmed by paparazzi at an airport after SAG Awards.



Lupita Nyong'o graces the front page on Vogue's latest issue, marking her first time ever serving as a cover girl for the prestigious magazine. She reportedly becomes the second black woman from Africa to ever land the Vogue cover. The first one was Ethiopian model Liya Kebede.

The Oscar winner smiles brightly to the camera and wears a printed Prada dress that shows off her curves. In her cover story, the movie starlet discusses her skyrocketing success. She remembers being swarmed by paparazzi at an airport after SAG Awards in January this year.

"It just feels like the entertainment industry exploded into my life," she recalls. "People who seemed so distant all of a sudden were right in front of me and recognizing me-before I recognized them! For a split second I looked behind me to see who they were flashing at-and it was me! That was, I think, the beginning of the end of my anonymity."

Two months later, she won an Academy Award for her role in slavery drama "12 Years a Slave". At the time, all she could think was "Don't fall on those stairs." She says, "It's not cute if you follow Jennifer Lawrence - it's not cute if you're the second one!" referring to the incident when Lawrence tripped on her way to the stage to collect her Best Actress win a year before.

After taking home the Best Supporting Actress title, Nyong'o landed a lucrative deal with top-branded perfume and cosmetic company Lancome. She was called the new Hollywood "it" girl and turned heads with her looks at red carpet events. "It's a job; it's work, you know!" Nyong'o says of her red carpet appearances.

"We'd just try, try, try, try, try, try, try. At first it was very daunting, but I ended up really having fun with it," she continues. "Especially for the bigger awards, the dress let me know it was going to be worn. It's quite scary when you fall in love with a dress, because it's nothing to do with your brain. It's like a gut reaction."

But, still "nothing can prepare you for awards season. The red carpet feels like a war zone, except you cannot fly or fight; you just have to stand there and take it," she says, before adding, "I hope they don't make that the big quote!" Despite her glamorous look at the red carpet, she insists, "It doesn't represent the entirety of me, which I am at peace with."

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