Lupita Nyong'o began her career in Hollywood as a production assistant but long gone are those days. Now the Kenyan-Mexican Oscar awarded actress is on the path of literacy. Sulwe is a children's fiction picture book with her as the author and last Thursday, production company Netflix announced they will adapt this book into a musical animated series. The streaming service has other projects like this for example Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10½: A Space-Age Adventure, Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild, Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon, and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio among others.
“Sulwe was born the color of midnight,” the book begins, in this story, we follow the story of Sulwe, a girl with dark skin who wishes her skin was lighter. The picture book is illustrated by Vashti Harrison, published in October 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers also was a New York Times bestseller. Thanks to Vashti Harrison, the book earned a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Children’s Literary Work
Nyong'o said in a statement about Sulwe “Growing up, I was uncomfortable in my dark skin. I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in the aspirational pages of books and magazines, or even on TV. It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love. Sulwe is a mirror for dark-skinned children to see themselves, a window for those who may not be familiar with colorism, to have understanding and empathy, and an invitation for all who feel different and unseen to recognize their innate beauty and value. I am thrilled that the book is being adapted into an animated musical that we hope inspires children all around the world to celebrate their uniqueness.”
"All she wants is to be beautiful and bright. One night, Sulwe is visited by a shooting star sent by the Night, and embarks on a magical journey where she learns the eye-opening story of the sisters Night and Day. Sulwe is a story about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within,” says the release.
This is the second time Nyong'o and Netflix join forces. The first time was with “Bookmarks” a live-action series featuring Black celebrities and artists reading books from Black authors. Lupita read in here for the first time “Sulwe” and later reflected on how this story was her own experience.
Being a little child she only saw light skin everywhere, Tv, Magazines, and around her, so every night she prayed to God to wake up lighter skinned. "And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey," she mentioned later on. "That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade to that beauty."
“Bookmarks” is available to watch on Netflix while “Sulwe” has no further information about the release date., director or cast.