Lupita Nyong’o Gets Honest About The ‘Panic’ And Health Issues She Experienced While Receiving Acclaim For 12 Years A Slave

Lupita Nyong'o as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave
(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Lupita Nyong’o had quite an impressive film debut when she played Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. This led to the start of her remarkable film and theater career playing memorable roles. But after Nyong’o won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, she experienced “panic” and serious health issues.

12 Years a Slave was a great movie about race and social justice. It followed a Black man in the 1840s who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, where he befriends top cotton picker slave Patsey. The heart-wrenching emotions that Lupita Nyong’o brought out to the tragic role made her more than worthy of her Oscar. However, Nyong’o told The Hollywood Reporter that the extreme stress she endured after her win led to serious health problems after. In her words:

I was mitigating my panic at all times because extreme failure and extreme success, the body doesn’t know the difference. Either way, you are in distress. I’m proud of how I weathered that particular storm, but it cost me. It cost me physically. I was extremely thin. My body was ravaging itself, and I got fibroids.

Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. According to Fibroid Free, anxiety can be a cause of that condition where extra hormones are released to cope with stress. When hormone levels rise, this can stimulate fibroid growth and cause symptoms to occur. Fortunately, Nyong’o went through surgery to remove the fibroids and she continues to be healthy today. I can understand the stress the Kenyan-Mexican actress went through, as you fear your Oscar win could be the only accomplishment you achieve in a tough industry.

Lupita Nyong’o had an outstanding Yale experience where she earned her Master’s degree in acting. She was in many productions like Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Uncle Vanya, The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter’s Tale. She even won the Herschel Williams Prize for “acting students with outstanding ability.” However, she was told at Yale that the entertainment business would be a challenge once out in the real world.

We kept being told that it’s going to be one long, lonely, hard and fruitless journey, being an actor. You’re going to be Policewoman Number Three for a long time before you can get anywhere. They helped us to mentally prepare for failure, but they did not prepare us for success.

This talented actress clearly beat the odds. Other than her infamous Oscar win, she managed to freak us out playing her dual role in Jordan Peele’s Us, was turned into Maz Kanata for a motion-capture role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and earned a Tony award for the Broadway play Eclipsed. Lupita Nyong'o recently got back into superhero shape by reprising her Black Panther role Nakia in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It appears that she’s able to accomplish anything she puts her mind to with talent and poise.

While Lupita Nyong’o suffered from “panic” and health issues after her 12 Years a Slave win, it’s good to know she rose back to health. The entertainment industry is not done with her yet and we’re so thankful for that. You can watch her in the upcoming Marvel movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which comes to theaters on November 11th. 

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.