The 31-year old Kenyan rocketed to fame for her powerful performance in the movie "12 Years a Slave", for which she won an Oscar. Growing up surrounded by Western images of attractiveness made it difficult to see her own beauty, she claims. “Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair,” she told People magazine.

“Subconsciously, you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess. But with her mother telling her that she, too, was beautiful, Nyong’o said she “finally started to believe her at some point”.

This is the third time that People has named a black woman its Most Beautiful since beginning the tradition in 1990. Previous honorees were Halle Berry in 2003 and Beyoncé in 2012.

David adjaye
African Diaspora Awards