Lupita Nyong’o — One Of The World’s Most Interesting Adult Third Culture Kids

Lupita Nyong'o (Photo by Daniel Benavides CC BY 2.0)

In a world full of culture, there are those who stand out in a very unique way and are incredibly special. Actor Lupita Nyong’o is one of those.

Nyong’o was born in Mexico City, Mexico. Her parents were both originally from Kenya, but were living in political exile in Mexico. Nyong’o was able to spend some of her childhood in Mexico, until it was safe to return to her parents’ homeland.

Lupita Nyong'o (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Lupita Nyong’o (Photo by Rhododendrites – CC BY-SA 4.0)


Nyong’o lived in Kenya for a few more years with her parents, until her teen years when she was sent back to Mexico to learn Spanish.

This was very important to her, as it allowed to adapt to various cultures, which would only help her in her pursuit of acting.

The Kenyan-Mexican actress is the epitome of a Third Culture Kid (TCK). Nyong’o’s parents were of Kenyan decent, but Lupita has adapted to Mexican, Kenyan and U.S. culture flawlessly by embracing her surroundings.


Nyong’o moved to the United States to pursue her career in acting and earned her degree in film from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. The time spent in the United States allowed Nyong’o to become introduced to her third culture, in which she would excel greatly.

Taking her knowledge of film back to Kenya on a summer break from college, Nyong’o noticed a production was happening, and it was there that she would receive her first taste of the film industry on the set of “The Constant Gardener” as a production assistant.

Lupita Nyong'o (Photo by Gage Skidmore - CC BY-SA 3.0)
Lupita Nyong’o (Photo by Gage Skidmore – CC BY-SA 3.0)


Although Nyong’o’s upbringing has been very unconventional, she’s proven to be a shining example of what an individual can accomplish when introduced to various cultures at a very young age.

The cultural impact she has left on young women and people of color has become something that is a great example of her overall beauty. Lancôme, a major cosmetics line, has seen this for itself and made her the company’s first black woman ambassador.


Nyong’o’s ability to adapt to her surroundings have made her cultural fluidity apparent in her films. She won an Oscar for best supporting actress in “12 years a Slave.” Nyong’o was able to bring her role in this movie to life, grabbing the attention of her peers and gaining a significant fan base.

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong’o

She also showed off her cultural fluidity in both of Disney/Marvel’s “Black Panther” movies, even using her Spanish language skill in one of them.

Nyong’o’s impact will grow as she continues to strive for greatness and sets an example for young women and any TCK who feels as if they don’t belong.







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Celebrating Cross-Cultural TCK Identity
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