Right now everyone seems to be obsessed with the stunning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o. And for good reason. Her heart-wrenching performance in the film “12 Years a Slave” has won her critical acclaim, while her humility and beauty have won countless hearts. She’s been on most major talk shows and is lighting up every magazine cover possible. Yet for all the attention, many just can’t say her name right. Quite a few don’t even seem to care enough to try. With the Oscars just weeks away, please do your research, stretch your tongue and practice saying Lupita’s name. After all the butcherings of her name, Lupita posted a video on instagram of herself to guide you with the pronunciation, even saying it in an American accent. Look out for that soft “g”.

Ok, now that you’ve heard it direct from Lupita’s mouth and you’ve mastered it for yourself, let’s see if any celebrities and hosts did their homework before saying her name. Lupita has a tendency to kindly let poor pronunciation slide (she’s trying to not embarrass her host), but you can tell who gets it and who doesn’t. We’ve got some videos all cued up:

Craig Ferguson–he has a talk show on CBS long after most people have gone to bed–messes up Lupita’s name twice when she came to visit him on his show before asking if the name is African. Then he admits he’s never been to Kenya. We trust him on that one.


On Jimmy Kimmel’s show (for those who don’t live in the US, it’s another late night show), Jimmy repeatedly mishandles her name and seems not to care, even after she tells him how to say it:


The actor Matt Damon (remember when he saved South Africa in “Invictus”) just sounds clueless announcing Lupita’s win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards:


Jonah Hill’s corruption of her name at the Critic’s Choice Awards is so egregious it’s impressive.

Queen Latifah is so enthusiastic about Lupita’s visit that she taints the name with a hard “g”.


On ABC’s The View’s Sherri Shepherd gets rough with “Nyong’o” and fellow cast member Chiwetel Ejiofor’s name.


(BTW, remember when Matthew McConaughey either forgot Ejiofor’s last name or forgot how to say it?)

Finally, Jimmy Fallon admits to Lupita that her name can be tricky. She nods in agreement and tries to mask her fatigue before playing along and saying it once more for Jimmy to hear. Jimmy gives it another try and surprisingly he actually nails it. From Lupita’s shocked reaction you can tell that doesn’t happen very often.


* Stay tuned for more coverage of Lupita Nyong’o and the Academy Awards coming soon.

Further Reading