04/14/2014 08:45 am ET Updated Apr 14, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o: Capitalizing On Her Leap To Stardom

Jason LaVeris via Getty Images

It goes without saying that when you’re handed the part of a lifetime, you play it to the hilt. In the case of Lupita Nyong’o, the 31-year old Oscar winner — born in Mexico, raised in Kenya, educated at Yale and vaulted to what seemed like overnight fame — the part of the slave Patsey in “12 Years a Slave” was just a preamble for a far larger role.

Unlike many ingénues struck by show business lightning, this one came prepared to turn her allotted 15 minutes into a more durable and moneymaking run. Rather than looking upon the grueling award-show season as a never-ending slog — a “Groundhog Day” loop of dinners and speeches and red carpet treks — Ms. Nyong’o and her management approached the five-month span between the film’s debut at the Telluride Film Festival (and gala premiere a week later at the Toronto Film Festival) and the Academy Awards with what, in retrospect, looks like military precision.
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