CREDIT: AP Images Jordan Strauss
In her acceptance speech, Nyong’o says “I want to salute the spirit of Patsey…To Solomon, thank you for telling her story, and your own…[And to Steve McQueen] I’m certain that the dead are standing around you and watching and so am I.” Her performance has become one of the stand-out elements of the film, and I think one of the things that will give 12 Years A Slave a very long life. But Patsey easily could have been forgotten to history had Solomon Northup not recorded the period of his life that he witnessed. That note in her remarks, and Steve McQueen’s work in directing Nyong’o, are also powerful reminders that women alone can’t be responsible for elevating women’s stories. And the stories men tell can benefit from close, compassionate, humane attention to female characters.