Lupita Nyong'o Recalls Shaving Her Head as a Teen: "It Was So Scary But So Liberating"

Actress is on the cover of Allure magazine's March 2018 edition

By Jess Cohen Feb 12, 2018 7:28 PMTags

Lupita Nyong'o is Allure's latest cover girl!

The beautiful actress teamed up with hairstylist Vernon François for Allure's "Culture of Hair" March 2018 issue. Inside the magazine, Lupita talks about her relationship with her hair over the years and recalls shaving it off when she was a teenager.

"Well, I didn't love my hair when I was a child," Lupita tells the magazine. "It was lighter than my skin, which made me not love it so much. I was really kind of envious of girls with thicker, longer, more lush hair. In my tween years, I started begging my mother to have my hair relaxed."

But Lupita shares that her mom wouldn't allow it, explaining that she thought it was a decision she should make when she was around 18.

"Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty. My dad intervened and spoke to my mom about my hair, and she finally agreed," Lupita tells Allure. "She took me to the salon in the middle of the school day, and I got my hair relaxed. I felt so much better because it was easier to tame. All the girls in my class had their hair relaxed. Very few had natural kink, so I felt a lot more acceptable."

Later in her teen years, Lupita decided to shave her head.

"When I was about 18 or 19, I didn't have a job or anything, so it was really my parents paying for my hair," she shares. "So I was once asking for some more money to get my hair done and my dad joked, 'Why don't you just cut it all off?' And a few months later, I thought to myself, Why don't I? I went into the hair salon, and I said, 'Let's cut it off.' It was almost a dare to myself: Can I live without hair? He shaved it right off. It was so scary but so liberating because I went completely bald."

The actress stars in the new Marvel movie, Black Panther, which hits theaters on Friday, February 16. Lupita recalls first being approached to be in the film and knowing it would be a "history-making" movie.

She tells Allure, "When [director] Ryan [Coogler] approached me to be in it, he walked me through what he was thinking the story would be about. I remember him finishing his spiel and me being like, 'And this is a Marvel movie?' And him being like, 'Yeah.' And I was like, 'And they said you could make this? Have they green-lighted this idea of yours?' And he was like, 'Yeah, I can't believe it.' And I was like, 'Whoa, that is next level.'"

Lupita continues, "On set, it was just such an inspirational experience because so much thought was put into this film, and every single aspect of it was rich and beautiful and just arresting, actually. To see this aspirational African world that actually becomes an example for the whole wide world was spellbinding. We were all very much aware that we were in something extremely special."

To see more from Lupita's interview, pick up a copy of Allure, on national newsstands on February 20.