Lupita Nyong'o Is The First Black Jury Head For 74th Berlinale

The 74th Berlin International Film Festival has chosen Academy award-winner Lupita Nyong’o as its jury president, making her the very first Black person to take up the position in Berlinale’s history. 

The Berlin Film Festival—or Berlinale—is arguably one of the most well-respected film festivals in the world, and this year’s edition of the event has been in full swing since February 15. The Berlinale has 20 films competing for the prestigious Golden Bear awards. It will be announcing its winners on February 24 at the Berlinale , just before its final day on February 25, reports Robert Lang of Deadline. This year marks a significant milestone for the festival, as it’s chosen none other than Academy award-winner Lupita Nyong’o as its jury president. This makes Nyong’o the very first Black person to take on the position in the festival’s entire history. 

“I am deeply honored to serve as the President of the International Jury of the Berlin International Film Festival,” Nyong’o expresses in an official statement. “I look forward to celebrating and recognising the outstanding work of filmmakers from around the world.” 

Berlinale directors Mariëtte Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian add: “Lupita Nyong’o embodies what we like in cinema: versatility in embracing different projects, addressing different audiences, and consistency to one idea that is quite recognisable in her characters, as diverse as they may look. We are happy and proud she has accepted our invitation to be the jury president of the 74th Berlinale.”

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Passionate Filmmakers

Joining Nyong’o in this year’s jury are director Ann Hui (Hong Kong, China),  actor-director Brady Corbet (U.S.), writer Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine), filmmaker Albert Serra (Spain), and actor-director Jasmine Trinca (Italy). 

Brady Corbet, Jasmine Trinca, Christian Petzold, Lupita Nyong'o, Albert Serra, Ann Hui, and Oksana Zabuzhko
The jury of Berlinale 2024 (L-R): Brady Corbet, Jasmine Trinca, Christian Petzold, Lupita Nyong’o, Albert Serra, Ann Hui, and Oksana Zabuzhko/Photo by Elena Ternovaja via Wikimedia Commons 

Nyong’o and her team spent months preparing for the festival and its awards. “Already, we’re having robust conversations,” she explains during a press conference for Berlinale’s launch on February 15, reports AP News . “We have a lot of world experience and opinion, and it’s going to be interesting. It’s probably also going to be spicy.”

This year’s Berlinale is also Nyong’o’s first, which she also reveals during the opening press conference. 

The Woman of Many Firsts

The 2024 Berlinale isn’t the only instance where Nyong’o has made waves and achieved monumental firsts. Many remember her spectacular and compelling performance as Patsey in 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, which was also the role that earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the 86th Academy Awards. This made her the first Black African actress to have ever won an Oscar in the Academy’s history. 

Lupita Nyong’o posing in front of her official Berlinale portrait, marking the first time a Black individual has ever held the position
Lupita Nyong’o posing in front of her official Berlinale portrait, marking the first time a Black individual has ever held the position/Photo via Instagram @lupitanyongo

Multifaceted Talent

Since then, the Kenyan-Mexican actress’ career has only continued to flourish. Nyong’o has taken on many more memorable roles in movies like The Jungle Book, the Black Panther movies, the new Star Wars trilogy, and of course, Jordan Peele’s critically-acclaimed horror film Us. More recently, the star is a part of the main cast for A Quiet Place: Day One, a spin-off prequel to the popular A Quiet Place 9movies that’s set to release on June 28, 2024. 

Besides having a career in film, Nyong’o has also graced the Broadway stage with her role in Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed, a play that centers on a group of women in Africa’s war-torn nation of Liberia, according to Andrew Gans and Olivia Clement of Playbill. She’s also a New York Times bestselling author, having written the children’s book Sulwe, which teaches children to love themselves no matter their skin color. 

With years of experience in her belt playing a diverse range of characters, and a diverse group of professional filmmakers on her jury, this year’s Berlinale is certainly in good hands. 

Banner photo via Instagram @lupitanyongo.

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