Los Angeles - Lupita Nyong'o looked up to Oprah Winfrey when she was growing up.
The 12 Years A Slave star was a regular viewer of the television personality's self-titled show and admits it helped her find her purpose in life.
She said: "The overarching theme of her show is finding your purpose. That was huge. 'The Color Purple' was a huge influence on me.
"The closer I got to saying I wanted to be an actor, the more I started to look at which actors were doing things I was interested in and I admired.
Charlize Theron and Cate Blanchett and Taraji P Henson. Elizabeth Taylor. Oh, my goodness, Sidney Poitier was a very big influence on me."
However, Lupita admits her confidence faltered for a time when she was told by a casting director that she was "too dark to be on TV".
She admitted to The Guardian's Weekend magazine: "That was not fun to hear. But I just didn't accept it. It hurt, you know. And I cowered. But I didn't accept it, actually. That's the truth.
"But my mother said, 'You can do anything you put your mind to'. It didn't occur to me that I should change what I wanted to do. I needed to change how I was going to do it."