Lupita Nyongo’s Documentary “In My Genes”

6 February 2014 by Joe Dramiga, posted in Uncategorized

With a radiant smile and an unassuming demeanor, actress Lupita Amondi Nyong’o has walked into Hollywood's limelight and taken the film industry by storm. The Oscar-nominated actress made her American film debut in Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" (2013) as Patsey. Nyong'o received rave reviews for her performance, and has been nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and two Screen Actors Guild Awards including Best Supporting Actress.

While her quick rise to fame has been on everyone’s lips lately, not many know that Nyong’o wrote, directed, and produced the documentary “In My Genes.” It started as a final thesis project in 2006 and was finally shown in 2009 at the African Film Festival in New York. The movie documents the lives of several Albinos (I don’t know if they like to be called by this name or call themselves Albinos) living in Kenya.

These people have a complete absence of melanin in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of tyrosinase, a copper-containing enzyme involved in the production of melanin. This congenital disorder is called albinism and results from inheritance of recessive gene alleles.

Albinos are persecuted in Tanzania and Burundi based on the belief that certain body parts transmit magical powers. Such superstition is present in some parts of the African Great Lakes region, it has been promulgated and exploited by witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, concoctions and potions with the claim that their magic will bring prosperity to the user ("muti").

Watch her interview about this intimate and respectful documentary.

"I didn't want the camera to abuse people"

Lupita Nyong’o

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