The Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave star succeeds the Iron Man 3 actress for this year's title, marking her first appearance on the magazine's cover. The news was revealed on NBC's Today Wednesday.
Nyong'o never dreamed she would be the person selected for the publication's 25th anniversary issue. "It was exciting and just a major, major compliment," the 31-year-oldNon-Stop star humbly admits. "And especially, I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen."
Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, Nyong'o first equated beauty with what she saw on TV: "Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair," she recalls. "Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess." Luckily, Nyong'o says her mother, Dorothy, "always said I was beautiful. And I finally believed her at some point." Now she says the best compliments are "when I have been called beautiful with not one drop of makeup on. And also before I comb my hair or put on a pretty dress."
When it comes to beauty, Nyong'o says, "Happiness is the most important thing."