Happy Birthday, Lupita Nyong’o! The Academy Award-winner turns 36 on Friday, March 1, and we’re celebrating by paying homage to fierce and fearless red carpet style. Not only does the Mexico City-born actress create magic on the big screen with her touching performances, but she is one of the few celebrities who can transform the red carpet into the runway with her fabulous fashion choices and equally spectacular hair and makeup (she is a Lancôme ambassador, after all!).
While the Yale-educated star has always made it clear that acting comes first, she has more than embraced her style star status. Since her breakthrough 2014 awards season circuit that ended with her winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in 12 Years a Slave in that spectacular aquamarine pleated Prada gown, it was clear Nyong’o would be a fashion force on and off the red carpet.
In addition to the epic pearl-encrusted Calvin Klein creation she wore to present at the 2015 Oscars and gravity defying hair moment at the 2016 “Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”-themed Met Gala (her mane man Vernon François created a literal tower of tresses to complement her sparkly Calvin Klein frock), Nyong’o most recently treated Us to a host of superhero-worthy looks during the Black Panther press tour. A Wakanda warrior IRL, the actress rocked regal colors (think: jewel tones, reds and metallics), militant accessories (bedazzled chest plates and chainmail dresses, anyone?) and bold beauty looks inspired by African culture.
When it comes to statement-making style, the actress manages to wow Us every single time, and she takes her platform seriously. “I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside,” she said at the 2014 Essence Awards. “There is no shame in black beauty.”
In honor of Nyong’o’s 36th birthday, we’re taking a look back at her best dressed list-worthy fashion moments. Keep scrolling to see her best red carpet looks!