'12 Years a Slave' Star
I Used to Pray For Lighter Skin
3/1/2014 7:55 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
"12 Years a Slave" star Lupita Nyong'o says she repeatedly prayed to God asking for lighter skin during her adolescence ... because she thought having dark black skin was a curse.
Nyong'o was honored with an award on Thursday at a luncheon for Essence ... and said she was teased growing up for her "night-shaded skin" ... so she prayed God would change it.
Lupita says she was so ashamed she couldn't even look at herself in the mirror ... adding, "Every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I had been the day before."
The actress says supermodel Alek Wek -- one of the first dark skinned supermodels -- helped boost her confidence ... because people like Oprah praised her as a beautiful woman.
Nyong'o says she ultimately learned that beauty comes in all shades ... and hopes to be an inspiration to other young girls with similar concerns.
Get TMZ Breaking News alerts to your inbox