Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o reappeared in the spotlight with a powerful promotional clip for the latest album by American rapper Jay-Z entitled 4:44. The ad shows Nyong’o staring at the camera, listening to music from the album and shedding tears as she shows a sense of discomfort with her body language, despite not having to utter a line of dialogue in the advertisement. This performance was in line with the content of Jay-Z’s album, which came out on June 30 exclusively through Jay-Z’s proprietary music streaming service, Tidal. The album often covers the struggles of African-Americans in the United States, especially in juxtaposition with the history of slavery in the previous centuries of the nation’s history. On a related note, Nyong’o is also name dropped on a track in the album, as Jay-Z references her film 12 Years a Slave in “We Made It”.
Nyong’o, who was born in Mexico City, was raised by Kenyan parents in their home country before she moved to Mexico and then the United States. After graduating from the Yale School of Drama, she landed her breakout role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2014. Since then, she has skyrocketed in international popularity. As for her film acting career, she has mostly been taken up by voice roles in big budget movies, including her work as the voice of Maz Kanata in the modern day Star Wars trilogy, as well as playing a voice role in Jon Favreau’s reboot of The Jungle Book. She did get some critical praise for her portrayal of a Ugandan mother in the 2016 film Queen of Katwe, and she is expected to have a huge role in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther, which also takes place in an Africa-inspired setting.