'I realized that books don't have to be about White people, they can actually represent all people,' the actress says describing her complex relationship with literature during childhood.
Lupita Nyong'o was recently invited to the Harris Westminster Sixth Form in London to speak to young women about leadership and the importance of literacy. The event was hosted by the National Literacy Trust in partnership with Lancôme.
There, the Kenyan-Mexican actress spoke to the BBC about the importance of literature and her own journey with reading books as a child.
"When I was growing up I didn't like reading but I was surrounded by books all ti mes and I did know how to read. But as I grew older I realized that with reading comes comprehension and confidence," Nyong'o begins. "And I think those are two qualities that are really important as you get into the workforce and try find your place in the world."
Intermittent snippets show the actress speaking to the young women about the roles reading and studying have played in her professional career when having had to play certain characters with specific capabilities.
Cutting back to the main interview, Nyongo'o continues, "When I was younger, one of the things that didn't help my dislike of reading was the fact that not a lot of the books that I was reading were relevant to my immediate life, to my immediate world." She adds that, "I realized that books don't have to be about White people, they can actually represent all people."
Just last year, Nyong'o released her debut children's book Sulwe which seeks to address colorism in the Black community by providing much-needed representation for dark-skinned little girls through a character who looks just like them.
Towards the end of the interview, Nyong'o says simply, "When you are reading stories that have themes and characters that are relevant to your world, then you're more likely to stick with [reading] longer because you can see the ways in which it is applicable to your life."
Watch the full video below: