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A happy Oscar night for Yale

Last night's Academy Awards program was an exciting night for film fanatics—and Yale. Drama school grad Lupita Nyong’o ’12MFA won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsey in 12 Years A Slave, and Yale College alumnus Robert Lopez ’97 and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez won Best Original Song for cowriting "Let it Go," the hit single from Disney's Frozen.

Nyong'o, who was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, worked on various shorts, music videos and plays before her breakout role in 12 Years A Slave, her feature film debut. She moved from Mexico to the U.S. to attend Hampshire College, where she majored in film and theatre studies. After working on the production crew of films such as Fernando Meirelles's The Constant Gardener, Mira Nair's The Namesake, and Salvatore Stabile's Where God Left His Shoes, she returned to Kenya to star in Shuga, a Kenyan television series about HIV/AIDS prevention.

She then studied acting at the Yale School of Drama, where she appeared in productions such as Gertrude Stein's Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, and Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter's Tale.  While at Yale, she won the Herschel Williams Prize, "awarded to acting students with outstanding ability."

In her Oscar acceptance speech, Nyong’o thanked the Academy, cast, crew, family members, and the Yale School of Drama—but the most powerful moment came when she turned to thank Patsey and Solomon. “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own.”

With his new Oscar, Robert Lopez ’97 became the first Yalie—and only the 12th person ever—to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. (The grand slam is known by the acronym EGOT.) He won Tonys for The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q, Emmys for Nickelodeon's The Wonder Pets," and a Grammy for The Book of Mormon album.

During their acceptance speech, the Lopezes stopped at one point to sing “Happy Oscar to you/Let's do Frozen 2.”  A stage production of Frozen is in progress, but there is no talk yet of a sequel.


Filed under School of Drama, Lupita Nyong'o, Robert Lopez, Oscars
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