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November 14, 2017

Photographer who amended Grazia UK cover shot of Lupita Nyong’o ‘deeply sorry’ for ‘monumental mistake’

By Freddy Mayhew

A photographer has admitted editing the image of Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o for the latest cover of Grazia UK, saying it had been a “monumental mistake” for which he was “deeply sorry”.

Nyong’o shared pictures from the photo shoot on social media last week, showing her sporting “kinky” tied-back hair, but in the image used on the monthly magazine’s cover she is shown with a sleek crop.

The 12 Years A Slave star said she had been “disappointed” with the decision, which she said had been taken without consulting her and exposed the magazine’s “Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like”.

She said: “Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfils me as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are.”

Following the claims, Grazia UK claimed neither to have edited the image themselves nor having asked for the photographer to edit them.

It has now emerged that the decision to edit Nyong’o’s hair was made by US-based photographer An Le, who took the pictures for the magazine.

In a statement Le said: “I’ve had some time to reflect on my part in the incident involving Grazia and Ms Nyong’o.

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“I realise now what an incredibly monumental mistake I have made and I would like to take this time to apologise to Ms Nyong’o and everyone else that I did offend.

“Though it was not my intention to hurt anyone, I can see now that altering the image of her hair was an unbelievably damaging and hurtful act.

“As an immigrant myself, it is my duty to be an advocate for the representation of diversity of beauty in this industry. I will demonstrate this in my work even more going forward.

“My altering of her image was not born out of any hate but instead out of my own ignorance and insensitivity to the constant slighting of women of color throughout the different media platforms.

“There is no excuse for my actions. I deeply regret the pain I’ve caused Ms Nyong’o, a woman I’ve admired for quite some time now. Again, I would like to say I’m deeply sorry to everyone I did offend. I want to thank Lupita for addressing this important issue.”

The incident with Nyong’o follows a complaint from US singer Solange Knowles – sister of pop superstar Beyoncé – after the Evening Standard Magazine cut out part of hair hair-do on its cover.

Nyong’o used the hashtag #dtmh in her comments on Twitter, a reference to Knowles’s song Don’t Touch My Hair.

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