McQueen saw more than 1,000 aspiring actresses in his search to cast Patsey, the beautiful beleaguered slave who is both the object of Epps’s adoration and the source of his torment. “I had almost given up,” McQueen explained. “And then Lupita walked in. Immediately, I knew she was the one. She had the innate grace that I was looking for.” Nyong’o, 30, who was born in Mexico, raised in Kenya, and is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, had not yet acted in a feature film. The role has been a runaway success for her in more ways than one: Lately, she has become a darling of the fashion world—and a particular favorite of Prada.
Styled by Felicia Garcia-Rivera. Hair by Anna Bernabe for Hanz de Fuko Haircare and Chanel Homme; grooming by Jordan Long for Clarins at Exclusive Artists; makeup by Fulvia Farolfi for Chanel; manicures by Alicia Torello for Zoya at the Wall Group.