This is the year of Lupita Nyong'o. After winning Best Supporting Actress at Oscars for her brilliant performance in "12 Years a Slave", the 31-year-old star is named by People magazine the most beautiful person this year.
"It was exciting and just a major, major compliment," says the Mexican-born beauty who was raised in Kenya. She "never dreamed" of getting such title, but she "was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen."
She admits she was insecure with her look when she was young because her views of beauty were clouded by what she saw on television. "Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair," she remembers. "Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess." It was her mother who always told her she was beautiful the way she was. "I finally believed her at some point," she says.
Now the best compliments for her are "when I have been called beautiful with not one drop of makeup on," she says. "And also before I comb my hair or put on a pretty dress. Happiness is the most important thing ."
In an interview with "Today" host Savannah Guthrie, Nyong'o says of the nod she got from People magazine, "I'm flattered, but flattered sounds like such a flighty word, you know? I'm flattered with, like, gravitas under it." She adds, "You could have never told me that that would happen when I was 16 and insecure about my complexion."
The actress was also recently named the first black ambassador for French makeup and skincare giant Lancome. "I am particularly proud to represent its unique vision for women and the idea that beauty should not be dictated, but should instead be an expression of a woman's freedom to be herself," she gushes.
Nyong'o is featured on the mag's latest issue along with more than 40 other beautiful women in Hollywood. They include Kerry Washington, Stacy Keibler, Molly Sims, Gabrielle Union, Amber Heard, Pink, Mindy Kaling, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, and Keri Russell. Last year's most beautiful star by People is Gwyneth Paltrow.