Caribbean roots revealed in ‘12 Years A Slave’

Lupita Nyong’o, left, and director Steve McQueen celebrate on stage as they accept the award for best picture of the year for “12 Years a Slave” during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP

At this year’s Academy Awards another envelope opened to reveal a historic Caribbean achievement. With presentation of a gold, Oscar statuette to Steve McQueen for directing the Best Picture – “12 Years a Slave” – the region won kudos for nurturing the very, first Black to win the coveted award.

Born to Grenadian and Trinidadian parents in London, the filmmaker scored the grand prize recently when his dramatic feature beat out eight competitive films to claim the much-anticipated and last award of the evening.

Reportedly McQueen stated that he learned little about slavery in British schools. He attributed his knowledge to his Caribbean roots which made him aware of the 18th and 19th century slave trade from Africa.

Not since Sidney Poitier won the best actor Oscar for his role in “Lilies of The Field” in 1963 has the region scored top honors with the Academy of Motion Pictures. For his body of work, Poitier also received an honorary Academy Award in 2002.

Poitier was born in Miami, Florida to Bahamian parents.

Another child of the Caribbean hailed Cicely Tyson who was nominated for Best Actress in 1972 for her role in the movie “Sounder.” Tyson was born in New York City to parents from Nevis.

Another slave era film introduced Solomon Northrup, an emancipated Black man who lived in New York and was enslaved in the American south during the mid-19th century. The film was nominated for nine awards including two top honors – Best Supporting Actress and Best Picture.

Kenya, Africa is celebrating the triumphant, debut of actress Lupita Nyong’o. At the 86th annual awards, she won the best supporting actress award for her role as Patsey, the long-suffering slave in McQueen’s film.

The Brooklyn resident wowed the world in her light blue, flowing Prada design.

“It’s a blue that reminds me of Nairobi. I wanted to have a little bit of home,” she said of her nostalgia for the African capital. Born in Mexico to Kenyan parents, the “night-shaded” beauty epitomized the diversity of the 86th annual Academy Awards.

“I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned,” Nyong’o reportedly said during a luncheon.

The other top award went to Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron who took the best director honor for “Gravity.” Cuaron’s win is also historic being the first victory in the category for a Latino.

“I’m Mexican so I hope some Mexicans were rooting for me,” he told reporters backstage.

The California awards broke viewing records and even crashed social networks when the host used a cell phone to snap a group photo that included numerous Oscar winners. Hosted by a married, lesbian the ceremony also marked the first overseen by the Academy’s first Black president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Steve McQueen accepts the award for best picture of the year for “12 Years a Slave” during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP

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