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Why Patsey From 12 Years A Slave Looks So Familiar

Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" remains one of the most unflinching and heartbreaking Oscar contenders of the last decade. Based on a true story, the film follows a free man named Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as he is kidnapped and sold into slavery years ahead of the Civil War. The movie features an all-star cast of performers, including Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, and many others. One of the most notable performances, however, comes from the role of Patsey in the film.

Patsey may look familiar to many members of the audience because she is portrayed by Lupita Nyong'o, making her first feature film appearance. Though her Oscar-winning turn as Patsey in "12 Years a Slave" was relatively early in her career, Nyong'o has since gone on to a number of iconic roles as she has grown her IMDb list of credits. Given her acclaimed work and continuing career in Hollywood, it's worth examining some of the other parts that got her to where she is today.

She plays Nakia in Black Panther

After "12 Years a Slave," Lupita Nyong'o moved on to two major Disney properties: the "Star Wars" franchise (as Maz Kanata, though unrecognizable behind the CGI) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Specifically, she appeared as Nakia in Ryan Coogler's 2018 Oscar-nominated Marvel film, "Black Panther." A Wakandan spy and love interest to T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Nakia is shown to fundamentally disagree with the isolationism that Wakanda has chosen for centuries in order to hide its technological advancement from the world.

Despite playing a major role in "Black Panther," Nakia has only made one appearance in the MCU thus far. She did not appear in "Avengers: Infinity War," nor did she show up for the final battle in "Avengers: Endgame." That said, she is slated to return to the MCU with "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," which is scheduled to hit theaters on November 11, 2022. While it is unclear how the sequel is going to continue its story following the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, some have called for Nakia to take over the Black Panther mantle in his absence.

She played dual roles in Us

In 2019, Lupita Nyong'o teamed up with Jordan Peele for his highly anticipated follow-up to "Get Out," "Us." Taking place during a family vacation to Santa Cruz, the film follows Adelaide (Nyong'o) as her family is tormented by the Tethered — a group of clones who have escaped from an underground lab to reclaim the surface world. In addition to her role as Adelaide, Nyong'o also portrays Red, the leader of the Tethered, whom Adelaide had encountered during a trip to Santa Cruz years earlier.

The dual roles of Adelaide and Red garnered an incredible amount of buzz for Nyong'o when "Us" debuted in 2019. In fact, outlets such as Collider have pointed to her Oscar snub as continued proof that the Academy Awards have continually overlooked the horror genre despite it containing some great performances. Despite the lack of Oscar nominations for her work on "Us," Nyong'o's dual performance as Adelaide and Red arguably remains some of the most haunting work of the actress' career.

She protected her students from zombies in Little Monsters

2019 was a big year for Lupita Nyong'o in the horror genre. In addition to her aforementioned roles as Adelaide and Red in "Us," the actress also starred in the horror-comedy "Little Monsters." In the film, Nyong'o portrays a teacher who finds herself in the middle of a zombie outbreak while on a field trip with her students. What follows is a mission to keep the kids safe and calm while not letting them in on the danger of the situation.

"Little Monsters" received a limited theatrical release in the United States and went to Hulu shortly thereafter. In addition to Lupita Nyong'o, the film's ensemble also includes Josh Gad and Alexander England. "Little Monsters" currently has a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been "Certified Fresh," as well as holding a 100% audience rating, with many reviewers hailing Nyong'o's performance in particular and ranking the film among other zombie comedy classics such as "Shaun of the Dead" and "Zombieland."

She was an MI6 agent in The 355

Another notable credit from Lupita Nyong'o's career is a film that debuted early in 2022. "The 355" was directed by Simon Kinberg and saw Nyong'o star alongside Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and Fan Bingbing as part of an all-female international team of spies who join up to track down a superweapon that has fallen into the wrong hands. Nyong'o plays a former MI6 agent named Khadijah Adiyeme.

The roots of "The 355" stemmed from Jessica Chastain, as the actress pitched the overall concept of the movie to Simon Kinberg when they were working on "Dark Phoenix" together (via Deadline). Chastain's idea was to create something that could serve as a female-driven version of the "Mission: Impossible" or "James Bond" franchise. From there, the other actresses were brought on board, and "The 355" began to take shape. While "The 355" was ultimately unsuccessful with critics, the film has a respectable 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. At this time, it remains unclear if a sequel will ever receive a green light.