Lupita Nyong’o begins spectacular year of firsts

It’s shaping up to be a busy year for Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, who started the year shattering barriers by becoming the first Black head of the jury at the esteemed Berlin International Film Festival, commonly known as the Berlinale, per

In its 74-year history, the festival has never seen a Black person lead the jury, marking a significant milestone in its legacy.

Also, the award-winning actress, renowned for her iconic role in Black Panther, is gearing up to step into the intense world of UFC in her next cinematic venture, “Strawweight,” according to

In this upcoming film, Nyong’o will share the screen with Chloe Grace Moretz, known for her roles in The Equalizer and The Addams Family 2. The storyline revolves around two fighters entangled in a fierce battle within the Octagon.

Nyong’o’s character, a former champion, is on a mission to reclaim her glory and revive her career, while Moretz portrays a young woman whose newfound passion for UFC transforms her life. The synopsis tantalisingly suggests a clash where both protagonists vie for the elusive prize of respect, with only one emerging victorious.

Then there’s the CinemaCon, which is gearing up for its annual convention with mounting excitement as it has since announced this year’s coveted award recipient as the Academy Award-winning Nyong’o, according to a report by Nyong’o has been selected to receive the prestigious CinemaCon Star of the Year Award. The ceremony will take place at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, on April 11, amidst the glitz and glamour of the Big Screen Achievement Awards.

Nyong’o’s upcoming role in the Paramount Pictures’ prequel, “A Quiet Place: Day One,” adds to the anticipation surrounding her accolade. Directed by Michael Sarnoski, the thriller, set for release on June 28, promises a gripping narrative alongside stellar performances from Nyong’o and co-stars Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff and Djimon Hounsou.

Mitch Neuhauser, managing director of CinemaCon, praised Nyong’o’s remarkable talent, citing her diverse roles spanning from the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave to the chilling Us. Nyong’o’s contributions to cinema extend beyond the silver screen, with notable achievements in theatre and literature.

CinemaCon, slated from April 8 to 11 at Caesars Palace, serves as a focal point for over 6,000 industry professionals, encompassing exhibition, distribution, marketing, and more. With partners like the International Cinema Technology Association (ICTA) and National Association of Concessionaires (NAC), and Coca-Cola as the presenting sponsor, the event promises to be a vibrant celebration of the film industry’s finest talents and innovations.

Nyong’o expressed her profound honour upon assuming the role of jury head during the festival’s opening in Berlin. She emphasised the importance of diversity within the jury, noting how varied perspectives enrich the selection process.

The Berlinale, one of the world’s top five film festivals, has often faced criticism for its lack of diversity among jurors. Nyong’o’s appointment signifies a step towards broader inclusivity in the industry.

The festival, running until February 25th, features three African entries among its lineup, highlighting stories from the continent. Nyong’o’s historic tenure as jury president promises a dynamic and culturally diverse celebration of cinema.

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