Nyong'o, who co-stars in "12 Years a Slave," defeated Sally Hawkins ("Blue Jasmine"), Jennifer Lawrence ("American Hustle"), Julia Roberts ("August: Osage County") and June Squibb ("Nebraska") for the honor. This is her first Academy Award.
Nyong'o received a standing ovation from the Oscars crowd. "Yes," she yelled, before thanking the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science. She dedicated the award to the "spirit of Patsey," the character she played in "12 Years a Slave."
The 31-year-old actress thanked director Steve McQueen as well as her brother. Nyong'o closed her speech with this: "I look down at this golden statue, and may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."
Heading into Oscar night, Nyong'o and Lawrence were entangled in a tight competition for the Best Supporting Actress award. Nyong'o won honors from the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Awards, while Lawrence had earned trophies from the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards. Had Lawrence defeated Nyong'o, it would have been the actress' second-consecutive Oscar win. Lawrence took home Best Actress at the 2013 ceremony. In this category last year, Anne Hathaway won for her role in "Les Miserables."
The full text of Nyong'o's speech, via The Wire, is below:
Yes! Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. 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. Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position. This has been the joy of my life. I’m certain that the dead are standing about you and watching and they are grateful and so am I.
Chiwetel, thank you for your fearlessness and how deeply you went into telling Solomon’s story. Michael Fassbender, thank you so much. You were my rock. Alfre and Sarah, it was a thrill to work with you. Joe Walker, the invisible performer in the editing room, thank you. Sean Bobbitt, Kalaadevi, Adruitha, Patty Norris, thank you, thank you, thank you, I could not be here without your work.
I want to thank my family for your training and the Yale School of Drama as well for your training. My friends, the Wilsons, this one’s for you. My brother, Junior, sitting by my side. Thank you so much. You are my best friend. And Ben, my other best friend, my chosen family.
When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from your dreams are valid.
An historic night for Steve McQueen and "12 Years a Slave," wins for Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong'o, seven Oscars for "Gravity" and no love for "American Hustle." These were your 2014 Oscars. Hope you enjoyed it!
As expected, "12 Years a Slave" won Best Picture. Producers Brad Pitt and Steve McQueen accepted the award.
"To that I say alright, alright, alright." http://t.co/3MHHnAXXUv— ThePlaylist (@ThePlaylist) 6 years ago
NO ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT WUT BIGGEST UPSET OF THE NIGHT.— Christopher Rosen (@chrisjrosen) 5 years ago
#truedetectiveseason2 is McCounaughey and his Oscar. He won for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club."
She also gave an impassioned plea to Hollywood to acknowledge that people want to see movies with female leads. One of the night's most memorable speeches.
Will Cate Blanchett thank Woody Allen? Let's find out!
"American Hustle" has lost seven times, thus far, on Oscar night, including in the Original Screenplay category where Spike Jonze's "Her" took top honors.
Just because it's great and you need to know that.
Cuaron wins his second Oscar of the night for "Gravity."
Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez accepted the award with a speech that rhymed.
Or, well, Adele Dazeem. Or whatever John Travolta called her when he introduced Menzel.
Adele Dazeem did okay, I guess— Jessica Goodman (@jessgood) March 3, 2014
Bette Midler sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" after the list of deceased stars was shown. Among those stars left out of the In Memoriam segment were Cory Monteith and James Avery. Sarah Jones, the camera woman who was killed on the set of "Midnight Rider," the Gregg Allman bio film, was also not mentioned.
"I felt quite fabulous," @Lupita_Nyongo says backstage of accepting Liza Minnelli's bear hug. #Oscars— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) 4 years ago
Catherine Martin gets another Oscar, giving her two for the night.
POOR LIZA. It's just not her night. #Oscars2014 http://t.co/fovJayjbwA— Harry Clayton-Wright (@HClaytonWright) 4 years ago
IS LIZA NOT SINGING?— Meredith Woerner (@MdellW) 5 years ago
She sings "Over The Rainbow" to pay tribute to "The Wizard Of Oz," which is 75.
That gets director Alfonso Cuaron his first Oscar of the night. Cuaron co-edited the film with Mark Sanger.
Bill Murray and Amy Adams gave out the award. Before announcing Emmanuel Lubezki as winner, Murray paid tribute to the late Harold Ramis, who died last week.
Put those think pieces away: Nyong'o topped Jennifer Lawrence for the award and received a standing ovation in the process. "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid," she said.
That's three Oscars for "Gravity," if you're keeping score at home. It has received the most awards this evening.
If only Bradley's arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars http://t.co/C9U5NOtGap— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) 5 years ago
But for those still awake: U2 played "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom" and Brad Pitt introduced the band.
Director Paolo Sorrentino accepts the award and thanks, among others, Martin Scorsese. "The Great Beauty" was Italy's entry at the category.
And Darlene Love got to sing on the Oscars stage. Here's what Love told HuffPost Entertainment last year about a potential Oscars appearance:
That would be the ultimate. Never say never! Fate has been very good to me. I've been in the right place at the right time for the last 20 years. For one thing, it would give a lot of people the chance to see me. "Wow, that's Darlene Love. She really can sing! And she looks good."