Lupita Nyong'o is said to be the first Mexican actress to win an Oscar, but I wasn't aware that she's Mexican. Is she actually Mexican and is the statement that she's the first Mexican to win an Oscar true?

  • @Catija - The fact that there's some controversy over it means that it passes the "notability test", at least in my humble opinion.
    – user7812
    Jan 24, 2016 at 18:24
  • She's a popular actress and there have been multiple questions asked in the media about her claim to be Mexican. For me that meets the test of being a notable fact about an actress, and hence on-topic.
    – user7812
    Jan 24, 2016 at 19:08
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    @Richard If the question was rewritten to read "Lupita Nyong'o is said to be the first Mexican actress to win an Oscar, but I wasn't aware that she's Mexican. Is she actually Mexican and is the statement that she's the first to win an Oscar true?"... Is connected to films because the Oscars are film awards. This question would be on topic.
    – Catija
    Jan 24, 2016 at 19:54
  • It's crazy how Mexican claims lupita nyongo for being born there. It's just diplomatic she says she is a Mexican. She is educated in Kenya only went back to Mexico to learn Spanish. Her dad was a Kenyan in a visiting lecture program to university in Mexico. She was in a Kenyan acting school, done a Kenyan opera called shuga. I now some close who went to school with her. My son is born in spain live here permanent but still feels he is a Kenyan. So if she claims to be both is ok but is much of a Kenyan than a Mexico.
    – Much
    Apr 20, 2017 at 20:07
  • @Much obama claims he is african american, but you will never see melania to claim she is European american. his father is from kenya and returned there,
    – SSimon
    Apr 22, 2017 at 6:38

2 Answers 2


Because, she's a Mexican National by birth under Jus Soli, the common law concept of Nationality by soil, enshrined in Article 30 of the Mexican Constitution.

From Wiki:

Nyong'o was born in Mexico City, Mexico, to Kenyan parents, Dorothy and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, a college professor turned politician. Nyong'o identifies as Kenyan-Mexican. It is a Luo tradition to name a child after the events of the day, so her parents gave her a Spanish name, Lupita (a diminutive of Guadalupe).

She also studied in Mexico for a year when she was 16.

Based on a few interviews, and because she doesn't seem to have ever resided in Mexico when she turned 18 or after, it doesn't seem she has Mexican Citizenship, which is separate from Mexican Nationality. In interviews, she always refers to nacionalidad instead of ciudadanía. In the US, US nationality is also separate from citizenship, but this only applies to very very few people (A person whose only connection to the U.S. is through birth in an outlying possession, currently just American Samoa and Swains Island).

She has never given up or renounced her Mexican nationality, and Mexico recognizes dual nationality/citizenship, even after birth. In fact, she couldn't renounce her Mexican nationality even if she wanted to.

So because she is a Mexican National by birth, the claim of her being the first Mexican Oscar winner, by her or others, is legit. There has been no other Mexican woman to have won an Oscar, as actress or other roles, with only 4 ever nominated.

  • 1954 Katy Jurado Broken Lance Nominated First Mexican-born and Latin/Hispanic actress to be nominated for an Academy Award
  • 2002 Salma Hayek Frida Nominated First (and only) Mexican-born actress to be nominated for Best Actress & the second Mexican-Born actress to be nominated for an Academy Award
  • 2006 Adriana Barraza Babel Nominated Third Mexican-born actress to be nominated for Academy Award
  • 2013 Lupita Nyong'o 12 Years a Slave Won Mexican-born Kenyan actress. First Mexican-born actress to win an Academy Award.

There have been Mexican men to win Acting and Directing Oscars. A comprehensive list on Wiki.

  • wow!!! and that is why they consider her only mexican oscar winner? so strange
    – SSimon
    Jan 24, 2016 at 9:42
  • 5
    @SSimon its an intersection of nationality and race. She's Mexican because she was born in Mexico. If she was born in the US, she'd be Kenyan-American. The labels people use, when countries are just imaginary made up borders, that's the strange part :)
    – cde
    Jan 24, 2016 at 10:03
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    Please do not use code markup (backticks, four-space paragraph indents, <pre> tags) for non-code text. That markup not only applies formatting, but also certain semantic information (i.e. this thing is code), which is important for alternative browsers, e.g. screen readers for the blind, to best relate that text to their users. In some cases, treating non-code as code can render text difficult to understand (reading letter-by-letter is not unheard of), so please do not do so. It hurts the accessibility of the site. Italics are a common way to render foreign words or call out words-as-words.
    – KRyan
    Feb 27, 2017 at 18:14

She self-identifies as Kenyan/Mexican, due to having been born in the country (to Kenyan parents) and having lived there for half a year after her 16th birthday.

“I was born in Mexico because my father was teaching at a school in Mexico City,” the 30 year-old actress explained. “I was born during the third year he was there. And when I was 16, I returned to Mexico to learn Spanish. I lived in Taxco, Guerrero and attended the UNAM, the Education Center for Foreigners. [I] lived there for seven months and I loved it. ”

“Mexico was very strange to me, coming from Kenya, but I found such friendly people and fell in love with the food,” the Oscar-nominated actress told CNN en Español. “To this day, I love eating steak tacos before going to the red carpets.” - Huffpo interview

and yes, she's aware of the controversy her nationality is causing

“I’m Mexican and Kenyan at the same time,” she said, according to El Mañana. “I’ve seen the quarrels over my nationality, but I’m Kenyan and Mexican at the same time. So again, I am Mexican-Kenyan and I am fascinated by carne asada tacos.”

She talks about her upbringing and her love of Mexico in this cast interview for 12 years a Slave

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    @SSimon - Yes, yes and no. Yes, as someone born in Mexico, if she wanted to claim Mexican nationality she would be entitled to do so. Yes, there are no laws preventing you from self-identifying your nationality in either Kenyan or Mexican law. No, she doesn't currently hold Mexican nationality.
    – user7812
    Jan 24, 2016 at 10:24
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    @Richard: "if she wanted to claim Mexican nationality she would be entitled to do so." Not true. She had Mexican nationality at birth, automatically and involuntarily. Just like how someone born in the US or Canada is a national of that country at birth, automatically and involuntarily. There is no "claim".
    – user102008
    Jan 26, 2016 at 6:26
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    @Richard: "No, she doesn't currently hold Mexican nationality." Do you have evidence she ever renounced Mexican nationality? If not, then she currently has Mexican nationality, according to Mexican law.
    – user102008
    Jan 26, 2016 at 6:26
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    @Richard: Nope. That's not how nationality works in most countries. The law says she has it, period. There is no "entitlement".
    – user102008
    Jan 26, 2016 at 7:26
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    @Richard: Because the question wasn't necessarily about nationality, and the accepted answer already covered it.
    – user102008
    Jan 26, 2016 at 8:23

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