In ELLE’s 23rd annual celebration of women who light up the screen, Lupita Nyong’o and Aja Naomi King are among the eight supertalents that grace their own covers.
Lupita dazzles in a black, jeweled jumpsuit by Dolce & Gabbana and opens up about her success, despite an agent telling her that her skin was “too dark for African television” – while Naomi glows in a silver and white polka dot Calvin Klein dress as she talks looking to the inspiring people she works with to get started on her future as an artist.
Get a closer look at both beautiful ladies’ stunning covers below, along with an excerpt from their interview.
On her success, despite an agent telling her that her skin was “too dark for African television”:
I grew up with a very limited mirror of myself. I watched a lot of TV, but the people on it were always light skinned. And now I have a platform that takes me into people’s houses and onto the pages of their magazines.
On looking to the inspiring people she works with to get started on her future as an artist:
I want to write, I want to direct, I want to produce—I want to inhabit what I think it means to fully be an artist. I always wanted to do that, but I didn’t think I had the tools. Now I look at Viola [Davis] and I look at Nate [Parker] and I look at Shonda [Rhimes] and it’s like, You just do it. You just begin, you know?
Head to ELLE for the full list, which also includes Kristen Stewart, Helen Mirren and more.