What Does It Mean When You Say You're A "Fan" Of '12 Years a Slave's Lupita Nyong'o?

During the 2014 Academy Awards, watching Lupita Nyong’o was like watching a deity or an angel flutter across my TV screen. The 31-year-old actress stunned on the red carpet and made sure to put everyone under her spell in that powder blue dress. Lupita won her first Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and has stolen hearts everywhere. Really though, everyone loves her. From an extremely powerful performance in 12 Year a Slave, to her endearing Oscar speech, to wearing a headband of herself after The Ellen DeGeneres Show, her fan base has increased much more after she won her Oscar, similar to how Jennifer Lawrence’s support amplified after her win in 2013. Although Nyong’o no doubt deserves the fandom and attention for her incredible work, this sudden surge of post-Oscar popularity makes me wonder whether or not fans appreciate actors and actresses for their work or merely because they feel the need to follow trends.

For instance, when JLaw began acting, she was first recognized for her role in Winter’s Bone, which she received her first Oscar nomination for as Best Actress. However, while we may have known her then as the up-and-coming young actress who wowed everyone with her sexy red Calvin Klein dress on the red carpet, was still quite not on everyone’s radar. Later, she starredas Norah in The Beaver and as Raven in X-Men: First Class, garnering much more attention but also still be known as a new actress. It wasn’t until her roles in The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook, which she won her first Oscar for, that the clips of her interviews, GIFS and “Why Jennifer Lawrence is Your Best Friend” lists began to flood the Internet. Like this:

I find it highly unlikely that this happened because her fans watched all her movies and were just so excited that someone they had long hoped to win an Oscar finally had? I doubt that. And I’m only saying this because I love Lawrence but can admit that I haven’t actually watched all her movies. So why is it that I, and probably many others, suddenly claimed we were THE biggest JLaw fans even it’s merely because she’s goofy and embraces her womanly curves? Clearly, those would all be things to love about someone considering Hollywood can seem so superficial, but at times it feels like we only saw we’re a fan of this celebrity or that celebrity just because our friends say so, or because (s)he won Best _________ at the Academy Awards and therefore we just should.

Similarly, I question how many people were big fans of Jared Leto’s work before seeing him that night and practically O’ing after seeing how attractive he was. Honestly though, how many of you actually knew he was the lead singer of Thirty Seconds To Mars? I did but that’s only because I went through a weird emo stage during high school.

Likewise, from all the talk I heard from friends, family and even strangers surrounding the Oscars, everyone seemed to be rooting for Lawrence, likely because they were more familiar with her work, hadn’t actually seen 12 Year a Slave yet or were still coming down from their 2013 Academy Award high. Yet when Nyong’o won (as she most definitely should have), not many people vented their frustrations about Lawrence losing but instead celebrated via social media for Nyong’o’s win. As a society, are we becoming fair-weather fans of our celebrities?

Honestly, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with jumping on the bandwagon just because everyone else is, and because all of these actors and especially Nyong’o deserve the support with everything they do in the industry. However, I just want to point out that before you tell your friends that you’re some celebrities number one fan, make sure that’s actually true and you’re not trying to say what you think people want to hear. Trust me, it’s awkward. Someone once asked me who one of my favorite celebrities was only to reveal a look of disapproval when I said I hadn’t seen the movie they were talking about that started my so-called favorite celeb. Basically don’t be me. It’s OK to be someone’s “fan,” but at least know why you are one.