Lupita Nyong'o knew her source material. And presumably the Screen Actors Guild Awards at large did, too—but tell that to the teleprompter.
While presenting scenes from Best Ensemble nominee 12 Years a Slave with castmates Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah Paulson and Benedict Cumberbatch tonight, the lines given to Nyong'o to read contained a factual error—and we could tell that she knew it, despite reading the script as it was laid out for her.
(Hey, you try improvising during your first-ever SAG Awards after getting your first win in the midst of a dream-like ride of an awards season!)
"We were incredibly honored to come together to tell the extraordinary story of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave, the next film nominated for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture," Ejiofor began.
During her bit, Nyong'o referred to the film being based on a novel by Solomon Northup—though, in reality, it was Northup's memoir that provided the true-story source material.
"Based on Northup's own novel," Nyong'o continued, slightly tripping over word novel, because she knew the teleprompter should have read memoir, "published in 1953, the film shows how one man's inherent sense of love and family guided him to freedom after 12 years of enslavement in Louisiana."
Alas, there wasn't a chance to correct the error in hindsight, because American Hustle ended up with the win for Best Ensemble, an upset considering 12 Years a Slave's cast had more individual acting nominations.
But Nyong'o had at least already paid tribute to Northup in her acceptance speech, the film's only win of the night.
"Being recognized by fellow actors is an honor of the highest order," she said, singling out "the man without whom this wouldn't have been possible at all, Solomon Northup."
"Thank you so much for a life well-lived and a story hard to tell but told so well." In his memoir.