When Lupita Nyong'o accepted the award for outstanding supporting actress for her role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” no one was happier for the actress than Ron Van Lieu, chairman of the Yale School of Drama acting program from which Lupita Nyong'o graduated in 2012.
“I think it's unprecedented that somebody who graduated as recently as she did, which [was] about a year and a half ago… would in her first movie win an Oscar for that role,” said Van Lieu.
Van Lieu called Nyong'o extremely talented and said she has always paired her talent with a great attitude, grace, intelligence and charm, which made her an exceptional candidate for Yale's School of Drama.
“It was clear when she auditioned that she was both extraordinarily gifted and very modest,” he said.
Nyong'o now serves as an inspiration for aspiring actors at the school.
“We watched it live, and we were really excited about the win,” said first-year drama student Shaunette Renee Wilson.
“When her name was called, it was just mayhem, and then there was a lull, and when she said YSD everyone just exploded,” said Jonathan Majors, another first-year drama student.
Nyong'o was not the only Yale graduate to take home an Oscar last night. Robert Lopez, who graduated in 1997, won for his original song "Let It Go" from Frozen. The song has now won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
“I think it was such an affirmation of what it is to be in the arts in America, to be a young artist in America,” said Majors.