Lupita Nyong'o's 'Star Wars' Role Will Give Her the Staying Power of Jennifer Lawrence & Emma Stone
Lupita Nyong'o has been a media darling ever since her appearance in 12 Years a Slave, a role that would earn her an Oscar even though it was her first big acting job. She has since been named People magazine's Most Beautiful and, more recently, Nyong'o joined the cast of Star Wars VII — finally answering the question of exactly what and when her next major role would be. 12 Years a Slave and Star Wars couldn't be much further from one another in terms of tone and content and that's exactly why this is the best move for Nyong'o's career.
The main concern going forward was that Nyong'o had started out achieving something that many actors and actresses have to do several movies to even come close to. Leonardo DiCaprio has become the subject of a meme concerning how many Oscars he's failed to win despite numerous nominations. Nyong'o came to the forefront of the public's attention with an Oscar in her hand, so it might seem like she has nowhere to go from here but down. Her hype is so huge that she just has to be a one-hit wonder, right? Her dreams might be valid, but she's already lived them out and all that's left is to watch her star fall.
Not so much.
Nyong'o is an arguably over-hyped actress that just signed on to an arguably over-hyped franchise. Star Wars has been capturing the hearts and minds of the people since the '70s and the sequel trilogy is all that anyone can talk about these days. People have been speculating for a while that Nyong'o should join the cast and by doing so she is proving exactly how intelligent she is, especially when it comes to marketing herself.
For all that people tried to pit Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong'o against one another during Oscar season, the two of them are following very similar career paths. Lawrence got her foot in the door at the Academy Awards with her performance in Winter's Bone, although she lost out that year to Natalie Portman in Black Swan. From there, Lawrence catapulted herself into the public eye with her performance in not one but two franchise films — X-Men: First Class and The Hunger Games. Lawrence keeps her career evenly balanced between Oscar-worthy movies, such as Silver Linings Playbook, and the two franchises she's committed herself to, more or less ensuring that we won't be forgetting her any time soon.
Another star following a similar career track is Emma Stone. While she has yet to be nominated for an Academy Award, Stone was a relative unknown when she was starring in Super Bad and Zombieland. Her breakout role was as the lead character in Easy A, which launched Stone to a level of hype she'd never gotten before. From there, she starred in The Help, which was nominated for several Oscars, before signing on to the Amazing Spider-Man franchise as Gwen Stacy. The variety of roles that Stone takes outside of the franchise — from a gangster's moll in Gangster Squad to voice acting in The Croods — have ensured Stone's place in the Hollywood world without the risk of being written off as just another funny girl.
The same thing applies for Nyong'o and Star Wars. At a time when her approval rating is at an all time high, she's stepping into a classic film franchise that will allow her to show a broader range as an actress and hopefully get her booked for the subsequent two films. By associating herself with a film franchise that is still relevant to the viewing audience even 37 years after the first film came out, she's proving to everyone that there are still new heights for her to climb in her career even with an Oscar in her pocket. Nyong'o has saved her career before it was ever even in jeopardy.
The next step is for Lupita Nyong'o to star in a film or franchise of her own, but, until then, now even the people who don't like Star Wars have a reason to shell out the money for a ticket. I've been hoping for Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone to do a movie together, but now I'll be expanding that dream cast to include Nyong'o, too. They're three of the hottest stars in Hollywood right now and all three of them deserve it.