Lupita N’yongo may not be a household name, despite having won an Oscar for her role in 12 Years a Slave and delivering a motion-capture performance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But she has certainly earned influence within her industry.
The 32-year-old black actress recently offered a unique perspective on the current controversy over lack of diversity in the Academy Awards. From Variety:
“First of all, I feel extremely grateful to find myself in the position that I find myself, and I use the little weight that I have in order to do passion projects and in order to tell stories that otherwise would not be told,” she said. “I also recognize that in the position I’m in, I have the rare privilege of choice as an actress — choice, and the ability in the room to make decisions, which is something that I don’t take lightly. It’s something that I really value, and something that I recognize as exceptional. I’m more interested in what is possible than what is not happening. It’s also about recognizing the world as we see it today and what role I can play to change the world that is there tomorrow, in the kinds of stories that I’m involved in.”
Perhaps unwittingly, N’yongo here articulates the real solution to any lack of diversity. Be so good at what you do that you cannot be ignored. Take earned influence and wield it to advocate for desired change. These are exercises of free association and market forces. Provide value, and create demand. Such vision must remain focused on tomorrow’s possibilities and not waste time lamenting today’s shortcomings.