Lupita Nyong'o: "I Say I'm a Mexi-Kenyan"

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A heated debate has raged for weeks about Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong'o's identity. The Mexican-born star was raised in Kenya and college-educated in the United States, but she returned to Mexico in her teenage years to study Spanish. 

Is she Mexican? Mexican-Kenyan? Is she Latina? Can we claim her as our own? 

Well, the 12 Years a Slave cleared up the confusion at a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September.

When a journalist from Mexico City asked her about her heritage, she answered, "Yes, I was born in Mexico, but I moved to Kenya where my family is from before I turned one. I grew up in Kenya, but my parents sent me back to Mexico to learn Spanish when I was 16. So, I did spend some time in Mexico in my adolescence. Then, I came to study in the U.S. So, of course, I have a special place for Mexico in my heart. It's my birthplace."

She continued later, "I say I'm a Mexi-Kenyan!" 

So, there you have it. Lupita is in a whole league of her own, and has created a unique identity to fit her unusual background: she's a Mexi-Kenyan.

Watch the clip below! Skip ahead to the 16:00 minute mark to hear her statements: 

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About this author

Cristina Arreola, Associate Editor

Cristina Mari Arreola is the Associate Editor. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she earned her degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University before moving to New York City. In her downtime, you can usually find her scouring the city for the most authentic Mexican food (still looking), scaring herself silly watching horror movies, or frantically reading a novel from her (extremely lengthy) reading list. See what she's reading now on Goodreads, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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