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Lupita Nyong'o, InStyle

Thomas Whiteside/InStyle

Lupita Nyong'o is unafraid of taking chances.

Gripping performances aside, the Eclipsed actress' candor is as striking as her résumé. Lupita is featured in the April issue of InStyle, where she speaks candidly about everything from Hollywood's pervasive racial "imbalance" to her decision to go bald.  "I like to put myself in risky situations—at least in terms of challenging myself," she says. "I do my best when I'm intimidated by confronting the unknown."

Acclimating to her life in the limelight has not been easy, however. "Right after the Oscars, I had no idea what I was going to do next. Zero clue. There's part of me that thought my life would go back to normal. Like at school. But it didn't," she says. "I did not get out of that unscathed, you know?"

But if a bit of grit means brandishing the success that Lupita has, all the better. In spite of all the strides she's made, though, the actress acknowledges that there are still too few roles for women in Hollywood—particularly for women of color. "There is a real imbalance, from the very creation of the stories and who's telling them, how and why. Change has to happen with the writers, the studio, the marketers, the directors," Lupita says. "That's got to be diversified because there is a hunger for the expansion of the role of people of color in the center of narratives."

Hesitation to brave new frontiers is a foreign concept to Lupita. "I'm never going to allow any type of [failure] to be the definition of my talent or my skill or me," she says. Also not defining Lupita? Conventional perceptions of one's beauty or "feminine value." Going bald is not generally equated with femininity, a fact of which Lupita is well aware. But beauty, like masterful cinematographic art, is not always about convention. 

"I wasn't sure if I could pull off [the bald look]. Because hair is the frame of the face, right? And we spend so much time on it, trying to get it perfect. It often defines one's beauty and feminine value. Almost on a whim, I was like, 'What if I didn't have it?' And so I shaved it all off—I was a complete baldy! It was shocking at first, especially for my mom. But I learned to embrace my features. And I like myself a lot more now that I'm not constantly fussing over my hair."

InStyle's April issue is on newsstands on March 18.