After the Oscar: Filmmakers Who Could Have a Director-Muse Relationship With Lupita Nyong'o
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After the Oscar: Filmmakers Who Could Have a Director-Muse Relationship With Lupita Nyong'o


For months, there’s been buzz about Lupita Nyong’o’s talent, her style, and

the desire for her to have a lengthy career beyond her breakout role in 12

Years A Slave. Now that she’s won the Academy Award for Best Supporting

Actress, the big question is what she’s going to do next.

No doubt, like director Steve McQueen, she

must have several offers on the table after last night’s win. But what I’d love

to see is for Nyong’o to become a muse to

someone, to develop a longstanding relationship with a director on a series of

projects that solidify both their careers.

Actors and directors form these kinds of bonds

all the time, which tend to be mutually beneficial, meaning more and higher

profile work for both parties. Consider Robert

De Niro and Martin Scorcese, Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell, Catherine

Keener and Nicole Holofcener, Michael Fassbender and Steve


But whether it’s due to a lack of power or a

lack of interest, black actors and creatives rarely show that kind of

allegiance to each other. Outside of the Spike

Lee/Denzel Washington relationship that lasted for many years and films, I

can’t recall one as solid.

Given the lack of opportunities for black

actresses in general, it seems Nyong’o would fare best with someone who knows

how to use her aesthetically, and who’s consistently making work in which she

can shine. Here’s a look at a few directors that may fit the bill.




An obvious choice after working with Nyong’o

on 12 Years A Slave. So far, the two

have had nothing but high praise for each other, with Nyong’o calling her

experience with 12 Years, “the joy of my life.”

Still, McQueen has made it pretty clear that

he’s already found a muse in Michael Fassbender, who has starred in all three

of his features. Whether he’s interested in making a woman-led film, or

possibly several starring Nyong’o, remains to be seen.




Besides 12

Years, Amma Asante’s Belle was another buzzed-about

period piece with a black protagonist, by a black director, to premiere at the

2013 Toronto Film Festival. Starring Gugu

Mbatha-Raw as a mixed race aristocrat, the film will be released by Fox Searchlight this spring.

Asante, who won the BAFTA for her 2004 debut,


Way of Life, is a triple threat in film as Nyong’o, and began her

career as an actor before going on to write and direct.




In the realm of black women’s voices,

DuVernay has a style and sensibility that could work well for Nyong’o. The

Sundance-winning director has been on a hot streak lately, directing an episode

of soapy ABC drama Scandal

and boarding MLK biopic Selma with Paramount Pictures and exec producer Oprah Winfrey.

Her sophomore film, the smoldering Middle

of Nowhere, especially comes

across as the kind of drama that Nyong’o describes as her “sweet spot.”




In his films Restless City and

Mother of George, Dosunmu worked with cinematographer Bradford Young to create dazzling

images of black bodies and emotion on screen. Their treatment of dark skin, natural

hair and bold colors could pair stunningly with Nyongo’s look and talent. Up

next Dosunmu, whose background is in photography, is set to bring his skills to

Focus Features’ Fela Kuti biopic.

A Nigerian native, Dosunmu’s also shown a

commitment to exploring the African experience in the U.S., which could make

for a great collaboration with Kenyan-raised Nyong’o. Of all the possible

options for Nyong’o, a teaming with Dosunmu and Young is the one I’d be most

excited about.


directors or projects would you like to see Lupita Nyong’o take on, now

that she’s won the Oscar?

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