Legal Drama

Was Lupita Nyong’o Irresponsible for not Omitting Dencia and Whitenicious from her Speech at the Essence Awards?

By now, you all have probably heard of how upset Hollywood based Cameroonian musician Dencia is, as a result of Lupita Nyong’o outing her at the Essence Awards event during a speech Lupita made. The story goes like this, Lupita was speaking about the importance of appreciating who you are and her prior insecurities with her self image. During that speech, she asked to indulge her audience with a  note from one of her many fans. In that note, was a reference by the fan that the fan was about to purchase Dencia’s Whitenicious product but as a result of seeing Lupita, she opted to forego the purchase. Lupita then launches into more of her speech and concluded with the plea that the audience love themselves from within and it would shine outwardly.

By the tone of the speech, there appears to be no ill will directed towards Dencia. Lupita was just reading a fan’s email. However, should Lupita have been more responsible by not mentioning Dencia and Whitenicious in her speech?

Here’s why I ask. On the one hand, Lupita’s speech would appear to encourage women, especially women of darker skin, to love their skin tones and self and not alter it with lightening/bleaching agents. On the other hand, the  mere mention of Dencia’s cream not only substantiates the kind of power Dencia has to influence young women, but gave more boost to her sales and visibility of her product to women who would not have otherwise known about Whitenicious. Whitenicious by all indications is Dencia’s best move so far. Her work as an artist did not come close to getting her the global attention and media press Whitenicious has afforded her.

Was it really necessary to give Dencia that kind of power by acknowledging her and her product and driving more sales to her door step? Also, should there be some deference afforded Dencia as an industry colleague, after all Lupita had the chance to work out her own insecurities and issues with her skin tone. Who is to say Dencia is not sorting her own issues out, albeit publicly?

I understand, to some extent, that an argument can be made that if Dencia puts her product out there, she should be prepared to deal with the fact that such a product can be mentioned by a fellow industry colleague; or that a fan would write the colleague and the colleague would read on national tv. Nevertheless . . . .

What are your thoughts?

Watch the speech and read up on Dencia’s reactions, she was not happy to say the least.


The Speech

“Dear Lupita, I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me. My heart bled a little when I read those words. And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shame in black beauty.”

Lupita’s Speech

Meet Dencia

See her responses to Lupita
Dencia Responds to Lupita Essence Speech 1

Dencia Responds to Lupita Essence Speech 2

Dencia Responds to Lupita Essence Speech 3

Dencia Responds to Lupita Essence Speech 4

Dencia Responds to Lupita Essence Speech 5

Dencia Responds to Lupita Essence Speech 7

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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  1. Missouri says:

    I think the only ‘wrong’ thing Lupita did was by mentioning the verminous cretin, Dencia. I’m appalled at how she’s mouthing off on social media claiming that Lupita was ‘beefing her’ really? If she took time to read/listen to the speech then she’d realize that it was much more, far above and beyond her. It was/is a message to young black women to respect and value themselves; and if mentioning Whitenicious helped put it in context, then so be it.

  2. Bobby says:

    Moving on to more important topics than that bleached thing with extremely low self esteem who has fights in public toilets and can’t sing to save her life, I think I lost my car keys.

  3. Remember LL Cool J name-dropping FUBU in a multi-million dollar GAP Campaign? No? Google it.

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