Nyong’o the ‘Rainmaker’ at Maui Film Festival
BY CHRISTIE WILSON / firstname.lastname@example.org
WAILEA, Maui – It would take a Jedi mind trick to get Lupita Nyong’o to dish about the latest “Star Wars” movie.
When asked about her character or to reveal any other details of the J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars VII” that has begun shooting at Pinewood Studios in England, the 31-year-old Oscar-winner for “12 Years a Slave” offered only a sly “no,” or “I don’t know,” or “I plead the Fifth.”
Appearing at the Maui Film Festival Saturday, all Nyong’o would admit to is that “I’m going to a galaxy far, far away.”
And that Haleakala would make “a perfect place to shoot” the newest installment in the blockbuster sci-fi franchise.
The 10,000-foot volcano is one of the sites Nyong’o visited during her Maui visit, her first to Hawaii. She was the festival headliner, presented with the Rainmaker Award that honors a film artist “for having the magical ability to impact the creative dynamics of every project they touch.”
Other honorees during the five-day event that wraps up Sunday were Emma Roberts, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Manganiello and Shep Gordon.
Before accepting the silver plaque, the luminous Nyong’o met reporters in an azure trapeze tank dress with palm trees in heavy gold embroidery by Italian designer Fausto Puglisi. She finished the fun and fitting outfit with gold Louboutin wedge sandals, simple half-hoop earrings and glossy bubblegum-pink lip color.
Nyong’o said she didn’t have any particular activities in mind when looking forward to her Maui visit and prefers “to be led” when encountering new places.
“I was led to Hana and Haleakala. My favorite part was going to Waimoku Falls (in Kipahulu) and passing through the bamboo forest,” she said.
Nyong’o, who was born in Mexico, grew up in Kenya and attended Yale Drama School, has conquered the entertainment world over the past year not only for her heart-breaking performance as the tormented Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” but for her perfection on the red carpet.
Named to People magazine’s Most Beautiful list, she racked up yet another accolade Saturday when the MTV African Music Awards named her Personality of the Year.
Coincidentally, one of the finalists for the MTV honor was award-winning Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, whose acclaimed novel “Americanah” is an epic love story of two young Nigerian immigrants across three continents.
It was announced last week that Nyong’o will produce and star in the film adaptation of Adichie’s novel, which won the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards in 2013. Brad Pitt’s Plan B will co-produce.
Nyong’s said she acquired the rights to the novel after reading it April 2013.
“I was floored by the way (the author) captured the African immigrant experience,” she said. “It’s a very diverse experience and she captures so many very different versions of it and so many colorful and specific characters. I was also very attracted to the unapologetic love story that has so such humor and heart.”
The actress is also the director, editor and producer of the documentary “In My Genes” about the treatment of albinos in Kenya.
Christie Wilson is Features Editor at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Follow her on Twitter.