Celebrating Afro Heritage: The Story Behind Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscars Hair-Do

Lupita Nyong’o has always expressed pride in her African heritage and features with her hair and fashion over the years, the 2024 Oscars was no exception.

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Lupita Nyong'o at the Oscars 2024 Red Carpet, and Variety Fair Oscars Party / Getty Images

The societal view of Afro-hair has been an unsafe, judgemental space for centuries. From texturism to upkeep, type 4 hair lacks uplifting representation, especially for African women. 

Lupita Nyong’o pushes the boundaries by boldly expressing pride in her African heritage and features. Her hair and fashion over the years have shown deep inspiration from the continent, the 2024 Oscars being no exception.

Nyong’o and hair stylist Vernon François used this massive event to admire Afro hair. On his official Instagram, Francois states, ”You’re not merely hair; you’re a badge of honor, a celebration of uniqueness.” Both her Oscar red carpet look and Variety Fair Afterparty embrace the gorgeously unique patterns and coils.

Her Oscar look incorporated additional type 4 textured pieces onto her usual shaved look, adding a dimension that worked perfectly with her Cinderella blue gown. Her second look of the night was much darker and equally fascinating. Gravity-defying locs were woven into her hair, reflecting the beauty behind the wonders of Afros and locs.

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Francois and Nyong’o have worked harmoniously together over the years, with some of their most iconic work dating back to 2018. In February 2018, Lupita sported a braided crown for the Black Panther premiere, one of the defining moments of Black representation. The up-do stole the show while paired with a stunning bright orange dress and minimal makeup.

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For the 2021 Met Gala, Francios conquered once again with an out-of-this-world woven style that reflected tulle for the theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” The piece was inspired by Brooklyn’s conceptual artist Lorna Simpson, an iconic photographer and painter who has transcended representation for black and brown women for over 3 decades.

Vernon François Offical Instagram

During the 2022 Oscars, the use of woven locs for a spiral updo continued. The locs individually reflected fishtail braids, “drawing inspiration from African figures in classical Greek Art.” This emphasized the consistency of African hair even through European history.

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Even when shaven to the scalp, Nyong’o tests the limits with fascinating looks. In May of 2023, she debuted a henna tattoo style that reached from the nape of her neck to her third eye, designed beautifully for an Indian wedding she was attending. The intricate piece was done by Sabeen Marghoob using Jagua, a natural skin dye that originates from South America.

Hair isn’t the only way that Lupita Nyong’o represents her roots, also uses fashion to show the intricate beauty of her origins. Throughout her press tours and magazine covers, Nyong’o never shies away from showing the beauty of African culture. During her Queen of Katwe premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, her dress was inspired by a Kenyan fabric, creating a bold and beautiful contrast that was paired with a matching blue headwrap.

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images For Disney

Lupita Nyong’o embodies and embraces the beauty of Africa, even outside of her origins. She consistently shares her personal travels to the continent on her official Instagram, from Addis Ababa to Maputo to Nairobi. Her trips are paired with extensive captions of her experience, showcasing the reality of embracing African cultures that are often depicted negatively within society. Nyong’o is a wonderful representation that continues to show off the continent with pride.

Nyong’o Offical Instagram

Princess McKey

Princess McKey, a dynamic film and content creator from Howard University's School of Communications, specializes in Television and Film. Experienced in independent student films, both behind and in front of the camera, I am deeply committed to the art of storytelling, ensuring active involvement from conception to completion of productions

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