Before “12 Years A Slave” there was “Shuga”

Lupita Nyong’o has taken Hollywood by storm in her movie debut as “Patsey” in 12 Years A Slave. Her character portrays the harrowing experiences of a young slave girl in the deep south of 19th century America, a dark period when slavery was rife.

But before she hit the red carpets and made the covers of magazines like Dazed and Vogue, Lupita was the star of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation’s TV show, Shuga.

Shuga was a hard-hitting drama that explored sexual relationships among urban youth in Nairobi, Kenya. Lurking in the background of this story was the ongoing risk of HIV infection. The show examined the ramifications of sexual decisions on the lives of young people, their partners, and loved ones.

“I think one thing the campaign [Shuga] is trying to do is talk about how HIV and AIDS is not a death sentence,” Lupita told CNN in an interview in 2010. “[HIV] is a condition that can be managed, if one chooses to do so, if one catches it early on you can live a healthy life with HIV.”

Lupita believed the secret to Shuga’s overwhelming success in Kenya was its ability to educate and entertain young people without preaching to them: “Shuga was so effective on Kenyan youth because of the fact that it was modern, it was hip, it was fast and furious,” explained Lupita. “In Shuga, it’s young people telling young people, advising young people. So I think that is very effective and young people respond to that”.

Shuga is now its third series. To find out more about the show, click here.

--> -->