Actress says she faced “obstacles” because of her complexion

12 Years a Slave star Lupita Nyong’o delivered a pretty emotional speech when she accepted her award for Best Breakout Performance at Essence magazine’s seventh annual Women in Hollywood luncheon.

The Oscar nominee talked openly about how, when she was a child, she “got teased and taunted about [her] skin” and often wished that it was lighter.

Talking at the lunch, Lupita 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.”

The Mexican actress said that it wasn’t until she met Sudanese model, Alek Wek, that she started to feel comfortable in her own skin. Talking about Alek, the 30-year-old said: “I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful.”

Lupita, who has won a Screen Actors Guild Award, hopes to inspire other young people. She says: “I hope that my presence on your screen and my face in magazines may lead you, young girls, on a beautiful journey.”