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The lack of diversity among Oscar nominees hits close to home for Lupita Nyong'o, in more ways than one.
The Academy came under fire from critics, including celebs, after its members nominated solely white actors and actresses for the 2016 Oscars, for the second year in a row. Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee have vowed to boycott the ceremony. Nyong'o had in 2014 won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave, becoming the sixth black actress to win the category, the first Kenyan and second African woman to win an Academy Award.
The actress, who was born in Mexico, had voiced her thoughts about the Oscars diversity controversy last month and recently spoke about the issue again in an exclusive interview with E! News.
"I am a member of the Academy," Nyong'o said. "It's my community that we're talking about and so, I wanted to speak as a member of that community."
Following the backlash, the Academy announced plans to double "the number of women and diverse members" by 2020.
"I'm very encouraged by the changes that have been made within the Academy but the main thing for me that I was hoping to draw attention to is that what we are calling for, asking for, is for there to be inclusion in the kinds of stories that are being told in the first place," Nyong'o told E! News. Because once there is more diversity in the stories that are being told, and that means the inclusion of all types of people, we can see then a change reflected when it comes to time for recognition."
Nyong'o had first voiced her comments on the diversity controversy on Instagram last month, saying she was "disappointed by the lack of inclusion in his year's Academy Awards nominations" and stands "with my peers who are calling for change in expanding the stories that are told and recognition of the people who tell them."
Nyong'o recently portrayed Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and also voices a character in Disney's upcoming live-action version of The Jungle Book. She can also be seen in the new movie Queen of Katwe, which also stars Selma's David Oyelowo and is set for release later this year.
Meanwhile, Nyong'o is preparing for her Broadway debut. She plays The Girl in Eclipsed. The original play is about women during the second Liberian civil war and it was written by first-time playwright and The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira. Eclipsed opens on Broadway in March.
"I am very happy to be in this particular moment with that play because, you know, it's about walking the talk and I think this conversation that is being had at this moment, it's, the Academy Awards is a catalyst but it's not where the issue lies," Nyong'o told E! News. "I think what this conversation is unearthing is that there's a hunger and a desire for the world of film, theater and TV to reflect the world we live in, which is diverse."