Seriously, what’s the deal, Hollywood? Lupita Nyong’o delivered a searing, soul-baring performance in 12 Years a Slave, for which the then-newcomer won an Academy Award, and yet the bulk of her roles since have relegated her to voice or mo-cap parts.
It’s deeply frustrating that an African-American actress, especially one as talented as her, isn’t fielding offers left and right to star in the kinds of high-profile dramas that would allow her to act without any barriers between her and the audience. Nyong’o has a role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and newly unveiled concept art reveals that she’s near unrecognizable in her part, which feels like a missed opportunity on the part of director J.J. Abrams and everyone at Lucasfilm and Disney.
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Coming at us via Indie Revolver, the image is our first direct look at space pirate Maz Kanata, who plays an unknown but pivotal part in The Force Awakens. Check it out below:
Thoughts? It’s easy to wish that Nyong’o had been cast in a part that would have allowed more audiences to see the lovely, talented actress without any VFX disguising, especially given that the original Star Wars were able to make characters of a similarly alien nature, like Yoda, come to life using simple puppets. Wasn’t there a human role that Nyong’o could have taken on? Between this and the Jungle Book adaptation, in which she’s voicing she-wolf Raksha, it’s painfully clear that studios seem aware of Nyong’o’s talent but unwilling to cast her as she is, and that’s both absurd and shameful.
Regardless, until we see more of the character leading up to the film’s December bow, it’s going to be hard to tell whether the actress’ talents are being creatively utilized or squandered. Fingers crossed for the former.
Nyong’o stars opposite Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie and Max von Sydow in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opens December 18.