Lupita Talks Star Wars, Education and Heritage

If you know Lupita exclusively from fashion articles, you most likely know her as a photogenic, media savvy star that rose to world stardom seemingly from out of nowhere. And although such observations might be true, they do not even begin to describe the 32-year-old Star Wars actress’ exciting life.


In a recent interview with The Guardian, Lupita explained that she found her true self through the freedom of the American university system. Before enrolling as a film and theatre student at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, Lupita said that she was “very indecisive about what [she] wanted to do.”

All Photos by Erik Madigan Heck.

All Photos by Erik Madigan Heck.

“There are no exams, no grades. It was a culture shock,” she said of coming to Hampshire College from Mexico, where she lived for seven months. “I was used to a very structured school…I knew that if I was in a more structured environment, I would end up not taking the risks I was raised to take.”

Lupita’s will to take risks has led her to the new Star Wars movie, which premieres in the U.S. on Dec. 17. In the much-anticipated Episode VII of George Lucas’ legendary dynasty, Lupita plays the role of an alien and thereby did a majority of her scenes covered in CGI tracking dots.

“These worlds are created by human beings,” she said of the film, “and at the end of the day they are created to illuminate something about us. So, under all the makeup, it’s just human relationships and wants and desires.”

“All we know is how to be human,” she laughed.

Despite her appreciation for the U.S. and her astral journeying as a Star Wars alien, Lupita never forgets to pay respect to her heritage.

“It took coming to America to make me realize the ways in which I was not American,” Lupita said. “It made me realize how much of myself and where I’m from I had neglected.”

“I know my Nairobi vibration,” she added with a signature smile.

Originally from Sweden, Chris is a journalist with an extensive interest for African culture and the arts.