What Does Lupita Nyong’o’s Name Mean and How Do You Pronounce It?

Lupita Nyong’o was born in 1983 and grew up in Kenya with her parents. When Nyong’o was just a teenager she moved away to Mexico to further her studies and learn Spanish. Ultimately, this led the future actor to study films, work as a production assistant, and graduate from the Yale School of Drama’s acting program. Take a look back at Nyong’o’s path to stardom and find out exactly how to pronounce this remarkable actors’ name. 

Lupita Nyong'o smiling in front of a white background
Lupita Nyong’o | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

 Lupita Nyong’o’s journey to fame

RELATED: Would Lupita Nyong’o Return for More ‘Star Wars’ Movies? Some Fans Hope So

So far, as IMDb has documented, Nyong’o’s career has been nothing short of impressive. In 2009 the actor was cast as Ayira on Shuga, MTV’s television series geared toward sending sex-positive messages. Just a few years later, in 2013, Nyong’o blew audiences away with her debut film appearance in 12 Years a Slave. The actor’s breakout role put Nyong’o on the map, and in interviews, she often spoke of the challenges and joys that came with taking on the character of Patsey. The star’s rollercoaster experience definitely seemed worth it.

As CTV News has recapped, “I had trouble sleeping, but it was a combination of dealing with the painful place I had to go and the joy of making this film with everyone. I mean, it was so exciting. It was my first feature film, I was working with people I admired so dearly, and we were making something that we all believed in, and everyone took such ownership of it.” However, this was just the beginning for the talented actor. 

In 2014 Nyong’o appeared as Gwen in Non-Stop and then as Maz Kanata in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. More recently, the ambitious actor has been recognized for her role of Nakia in Black Panther. Not even Nyong’o could contain her excitement when the film received a total of seven Oscar nominations. However, despite Nyong’o’s growing popularity and fame, many people still manage to butcher her name when pronouncing it. Find out the meaningful story behind Nyong’o’s name and the exact pronunciation of the star’s name

What does Lupita Nyong’o’s name mean?

RELATED: Lupita Nyong’O, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé’s Mom Are Among the Celebrities Featured in ‘Black Is King’

In some Kenyan cultures, it is tradition to name the baby in relation to the events of the day or times. That is how Nyong’o, a Kenyan at heart, wound up with a name with Latino roots. When Nyong’o was born her family was staying in Mexico at the time. NPR broke it down and explained, “She was named after Mexico’s Virgin of Guadalupe, Lupita for short because that’s where she was born.” Though a beautiful and meaningful story, many reporters and her fans and followers still manage to mess up Nyong’o’s name when addressing her or speaking to the actor. Fortunately, the actor is here to help. 

How do you pronounce Lupita Nyong’o’s name?

RELATED: What Is Lupita Nyong’o’s Net Worth?

From a phonetic standpoint, things can easily get confusing, but, fortunately, BuzzFeed has created an unofficial guide to figuring out tricky celebrity names. In the case of Nyong’o, the pronunciation sounds a lot like many would imagine: “loo-pi-ta kneeyong-oh”. 

When it became obvious that much of the world was still struggling with Nyong’o’s name, the actor decided to take matters into her own hands. She created an Instagram video giving a mini-lesson behind the pronunciation. Hopefully, sooner than later, the beautiful and talented actor won’t have to stress about people mispronouncing her name.