Lupita Nyong'o became an overnight sensation for her portrayal of the slave Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, based on Solomon Northup, a black freeman from upstate New York kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. Yes, she won the 2014 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work, but she was nominated for 31 other acting awards for the same role - too many to list here - and won all but nine of them. (Curiously, the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe award was one of the nine she didn't win.)
Born to a Kenyan college professor and his wife in Mexico City, Lupita Nyong'o grew up in both Kenya and Mexico. She began acting at the age fourteen, playing Juliet in a Nairobi production of Romeo and Juliet. Before she broke into movies, though, she was a production assistant in films like The Constant Gardener and The Namesake, and she wrote, produced and directed In My Genes, a documentary about how a a white person in a predominantly black society.
Following 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong'o went on to star as Gwen Lloyd in the Liam Neeson airplane action thriller Non-Stop.