Nyong’o discusses her role in 12 Years a Slave and the fanfare surrounding her life in the aftermath of the movie in this interview for PBS.
I was heartbroken when I read her story, and I felt a deep sense of sympathy. I felt so sorry for her. I realized then that I had a lot of work to do in order to be able to actually play her. Because playing – seeing someone sympathetically is a judgment of their situation rather than an advocacy for where they are and what they’re fighting for. So I had my work cut out for me, but I had a gut reaction to her.