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Celebrity Prayer Focus

Celebrity Prayer Focus: Jon M. Chu

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Jonathan Murray Chu is an American filmmaker, best known for directing the movies such as Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, Justin Bieber: Never Say NeverCrazy Rich Asians, and Hasbro franchises Jem and the Holograms and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Chu is an alumnus of the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. There, he won the Princess Grace Award, the Dore Schary Award presented by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jack Nicholson directing award, and was recognized as an honoree for the IFP/West program Project: Involve.

Chu was born in Palo Alto, California, and grew up in nearby Los Altos. His father, Lawrence Chu, is a well-known chef, and his parents own Chef Chu’s, a popular restaurant in Los Altos. He attended Pinewood School from kindergarten through 12th grade.

After making his student short, When the Kids Are Away, Chu was signed to William Morris Agency and attached to several high-profile projects. Chu was hired by Sony Pictures to direct their feature Bye Bye Birdie but Sony never greenlit the film due to budget concerns. Sony recently got back into business with Chu to direct their updated version of The Great Gatsby, which did not pan out, but, after being purchased by Warner Bros. Pictures with Baz Luhrmann attached, developed into the 2013 film. He is in a dance crew called AC/DC or Adam/Chu Dance crew. Chu has also executive produced several TV series, and is directing on the new show Good Trouble, a spinoff of The Fosters. He has also been announced as executive producer for an upcoming series Hilde Cracks the Case.

Chu is currently directing the online series The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. His most recent film, Crazy Rich Asians, releases mid-August 2018.

In an interview, Chu addressed a question he is often asked, “Why do all of your films have dance?” He responded, “I don’t know why. It seems so obvious. But there’s something about the dancers that motivate me the most. I don’t know if it’s just dance, but I do think that the dancers are amazing artists, and every time I meet a new dancer, that triggers something in my brain, and I’m more creative than I could ever be. When I feel that creativity burst, I go with it.”

[Career summary via Wikipedia and IMDB]

Join us in prayer for Jon Chu. We give thanks to God for the passions and creativity that He has given to Jon, and pray that God is glorified through Jon’s work. Pray that Jon encounters God and experiences His deep love, and that Jon would be surrounded with people in his career that can demonstrate God’s love to him. We pray for healthy relationships in Jon’s life both personally and professionally.

Celebrity Prayer Focus: Kelly Clarkson

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Kelly Brianne Clarkson (born April 24, 1982) is an American singer and songwriter. She rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural season of the television series American Idol, which earned her a record deal with RCA Records. Clarkson’s debut single, “A Moment Like This”, topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and became the country’s best-selling single of 2002. It was followed by the release of her debut album, Thankful (2003), which debuted atop the US Billboard 200. Trying to reinvent her image, Clarkson decided to part ways with Idol management and her second album, Breakaway (2004), featured a pop rock sound. It sold over 12 million copies worldwide and earned Clarkson two Grammy Awards.

She took further creative control for her third album, My December (2007), co-writing the entire album. However, her label was dissatisfied with the direction of the music and reluctantly promoted the album, which became her least commercially successful release. Clarkson returned to the top of the charts with her more mainstream-oriented fourth album, All I Ever Wanted (2009). Its lead single, “My Life Would Suck Without You”, holds the record for the biggest jump to number one on the Hot 100 chart. Her fifth studio album, Stronger (2011), made Clarkson the first artist to win the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album twice. It spawned her third Hot 100 number-one single “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”. She became the first American female artist to achieve the best-selling holiday album of the year with Wrapped in Red (2013). Following the release of her third number-one album Piece by Piece (2015), Clarkson concluded her contract with RCA Records and signed with Atlantic Records in 2016. Her soul-influenced eighth album, Meaning of Life (2017), debuted at number two on the Billboard 200.

Clarkson has sold over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide. She also scored a total of over 100 number ones on the Billboard charts. Her accolades include three Grammy Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, four American Music Awards, and two Academy of Country Music Awards. Billboard hailed Clarkson as “one of pop music’s greatest singers” and honored her with the Powerhouse Award for her vocals. Known as a versatile singer, Clarkson became the first artist in history to top each of Billboard‘s pop, adult contemporary, adult pop, country and dance charts. She was ranked nineteenth on VH1’s list of 100 Greatest Women in Music. Clarkson has also ventured into film, television, and writing children’s books. She currently serves as a coach on the television competition series The Voice.

[Career summary via Wikipedia]

It was recently announced that one of Clarkson’s upcoming projects is the starring role in the animated feature Uglydolls. She will voice the lead character and will also perform original songs in the film, which releases May 2019. Clarkson will also return to the judging panel of NBC’s The Voice for its 15th season this fall.

Pray with us for Kelly Clarkson and that God will draw near to her. We pray that in all her current and upcoming projects, her relationships with everyone involved will be healthy and they will enjoy working with each other. Kelly was raised with Christian roots, and though we don’t know her relationship with God now, we ask that God makes himself known to her in the coming weeks and in all aspects of her life. We pray for her family and personal life and ask God to give her patience, strength, and compassion as a mother and a wife. Pray also that God provides the time and desire in her life to rest and rejuvenate, and that in those times she knows God is the source of her peace.

Celebrity Prayer Focus: Pete Docter

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Peter Hans Docter (born October 9, 1968) is an American film director, animator, screenwriter, producer, voice actor and chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios. He is best known for directing the animated feature films Monsters, Inc. (2001), Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015) and as a key figure and collaborator at Pixar Animation Studios. He has been nominated for eight Oscars (two wins thus far for Up and Inside Out – Best Animated Feature), seven Annie Awards (winning five), a BAFTA Children’s Film Award (which he won), and a Hochi Film Award (which he won).

Before joining Pixar, Docter had created three non-computer animations, “Next Door”, “Palm Springs”, and “Winter”. All three shorts were later preserved by the Academy Film Archive. He was a fan of the company’s early short films, but he knew nothing about them otherwise. He commented in an October 2009 interview, “Looking back, I kind of go, what was I thinking?”

He started at Pixar in 1990 at the age of 21, and began work the day after his college graduation, as the tenth employee at the company’s animation group, and its third animator. He first met owner Steve Jobs when Jobs came to lay off some older workers. Docter instantly felt at home in the tight-knit atmosphere of the company. He has said, “Growing up… a lot of us felt we were the only person in the world who had this weird obsession with animation. Coming to Pixar you feel like, ‘Oh! There are others!'”

Docter had been brought in with limited responsibilities, but John Lasseter quickly assigned him larger and larger roles in writing, animation, sound recording, and orchestra scoring. He was one of the three key screenwriters behind the concept of Toy Story.

Docter has been an integral part of some of Pixar’s most seminal works, including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life and Monsters, Inc., all of which received critical acclaim and honors. He contributed to these animated films as a co-author to the scripts, and worked with CGI stalwarts such as John Lasseter, Ronnie Del Carmen, Bob Peterson, Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird, and Joe Ranft. In 2004, he was asked by John Lasseter to direct the English translation of Howl’s Moving Castle. Docter made his directorial debut with Monsters, Inc., which occurred right after the birth of his first child, Nick. Docter then directed the 2009 film Up, released on May 29, 2009.

In May 2009, Docter remarked retrospectively to Christianity Today that he had lived “a blessed life” so far. He has been nominated for eight Oscars (winning two), three Annie Awards (winning two), a British Academy Children’s Award (which he won), and a Hochi Film Award (which he won). He also won a Bafta for best animation for Up. Accepting his Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, he said, “Never did I dream that making a flip book out of my third-grade math book would lead to this.” Docter served as Vice-president of Creativity at Pixar Animation Studios through June 2018, and following Lasseter’s step-down from the role, is the studio’s chief creative officer (read more about the change here).

[Career summary from Wikipedia]

Docter is also a devout Christian. Though he incorporates his personal morality into his work, he has said that he does not intend to ever make a movie with an explicitly religious message. About the relationship between his faith and his filmmaking, Docter has said:

“I don’t think people in any way, shape, or form like to be lectured to. When people go to a movie, they want to see some sort of experience of themselves on the screen. They don’t come to be taught. So in that sense, and in terms of any sort of beliefs, I don’t want to feel as though I’m ever lecturing or putting an agenda forth.” [quote from Christianity Today]

Pray with us for Pete Docter, especially as he takes on his new role at Pixar. Ask God to be near him during this time of transition, and pray that it will go smoothly for Pete and his family. We pray that Pete’s relationship with God will grow deeper every single day, and that God continues to equip him to live and work in a way that glorifies God. Pray that Pete’s employees and coworkers would see Jesus through him and the way he lives. We praise God for the success and wide audience of Pete’s work, and we pray that everyone who sees his films will also see God in the characters, stories, and themes.

Celebrity Prayer Focus: Sandra Bullock

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Sandra Annette Bullock, born in 1964, is an American actress, producer, and philanthropist. She made her acting debut with a minor role in the 1987 thriller Hangmen, and made her television debut in the film Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1989), and played the lead role in the short-lived NBC sitcom Working Girl. Her breakthrough role was in the film Demolition Man (1993). She subsequently starred in several successful films including Speed (1994), While You Were Sleeping (1995), The Net (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), Hope Floats (1998), and Practical Magic (1998).

Bullock achieved further success in the following decades in Miss Congeniality (2000), Two Weeks Notice (2002), Crash (2004), The Proposal (2009), and The Heat (2013). She was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama for playing Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side (2009), and was nominated in the same categories for her performance in Gravity (2013). Bullock’s greatest commercial success is the animated comedy film Minions (2015), which grossed over US$1 billion at the box office. In 2007, she was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses. She was also named “Most Beautiful Woman” by People magazine in 2015.

Bullock announced on April 28, 2010 that she had proceeded with plans to adopt a son born in January 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bullock and James had begun an initial adoption process four months earlier. Bullock’s son began living with them in January 2010, but they chose to keep the news private until after the Oscars in March 2010. However, given the couple’s separation and then divorce, Bullock continued the adoption of her son as a single parent. In December 2015, Bullock announced that she had adopted a second child, and appeared on the cover of People magazine with her then ​3 12-year-old new daughter.

In addition to her acting career, Bullock is the founder of the production company Fortis Films. She has produced some of the films in which she starred, including Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, and All About Steve. She was an executive producer of the ABC sitcom George Lopez, and made several appearances during its run.

Most recently, Bullock stars in an all-female spin-off of the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, titled Ocean’s 8, which is directed by Gary Ross. The film released on June 8th, 2018.

[Bullock’s career summary taken from Wikipedia]

Pray with us this week for Sandra Bullock. We ask God to make his presence known to her and that she would know the deep and complete love of Jesus. We thank God for her heart for adoption, and pray blessings over her children, Louis and Laila. Pray that their family is full of love and support, and is a place of peace and comfort. We also pray that with the release of her new film, she will be protected any negative and hurtful media coverage or social media comments. Pray that God provides her with authentic friendships with people she trusts and can confide in.

Weekly Prayer Focus: Alan Silvestri

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Alan Silvestri is an American composer and conductor. He is known for his film and television scores, with a career that spans the last 46 years. Silvestri was raised in New Jersey, and his musical interests began with playing jazz guitar. He attended the Berklee College of Music for two years, after which he began performing and arranging professionally. He moved to Hollywood at age 22, where his composing career kicked off with the film The Doberman Gang (1972).

Silvestri’s rhythmic, synth-pop stylings served as the score for the TV series CHiPs from 1977 to 1983. He then developed a strong working relationship with producer Robert Zemeckis, and beginning with Romancing the Stone (1984), Silvestri has since scored all of Zemeckis’s films. These include the Back to the Future trilogy (1985-1990), Forrest Gump (1994), Cast Away (2000), Beowulf (2007), A Christmas Carol (2009), and The Walk (2015).

Silvestri has also composed the score for films directed by James Cameron and Stephen Sommers. His recent film work includes The Avengers (2012), The Croods (2013), and Ready Player One (2018). He also scored the new film Avengers: Infinity War (2018) which is releasing later this week.

Silvestri has been nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. He also has been nominated for four Grammy awards, of which he won two. Silvestri now lives with his wife in California, where they own a vineyard. Silvestri is quoted on his website, saying “There’s something about the elemental side of winemaking that appeals to me. Both music making and wine making involve the blending of art and science. Just as each note brings it own voice to the melody, each vine brings its own unique personality to the wine.”

Pray with us this week for Alan Silvestri. We thank God for the musical talent he has given him, and pray that Alan would grow closer to God as he continues to create music. Pray that Alan encounters the Lord through music, in a way that is meaningful and personal to him. We also pray that in Alan’s recording sessions, whenever he collaborates with other musicians, and when he serves as a conductor, his interactions are full of patience and compassion along with his drive for excellence. Pray that Alan would build relationships with people, especially other musicians, who can demonstrate God’s love and grace to him.

Weekly Prayer Focus: Emilia Clarke

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Emilia Clarke is an English actress, born in London in 1986. Her interest in acting started at a young age, and led to her attending Drama Centre London (graduated 2009). Clarke’s first television role was in a 2009 episode of Doctors, a British soap opera.

In 2010, Clarke earned the role of Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. She has been nominated three times for an Emmy in this role since then and has received praise throughout the seasons for her performance.

Clarke also appeared in the film Spike Island (2012), a Broadway production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (2013), and the film Terminator Genisys (2015). She then starred as the female lead in the film Me Before You (2016). This book adaptation was commercially successful and had a positive reception. Clarke was also cast as the female lead in Solo: A Star Wars Story, the next stand-alone film in the franchise to be released May 2018.

Clarke’s mother, Jennifer, is the director of the charity The Anima Foundation, which works to educate the public and raise funds for brain injury care. Emilia herself is involved in this organization and several others, and most recently was named the ambassador for the Royal College of Nursing in England. In the press release, Clarke said “I am fiercely proud of my new role as ambassador and vow to use it to champion nurses and their work. Together, we must attract young people into the profession, support them to innovate and become the powerful nurses of tomorrow.”

We want to pray together for Emilia Clarke this week. Pray that she can experience the love of Jesus in a way that is meaningful and tangible to her. We pray that she can develop deeper relationships with Christians in her life who can show her selfless compassion and grace. Pray that with her new film releasing next month, she will be shielded from negative feedback that isn’t constructive and it won’t affect her emotionally or mentally. We pray that as the final season of Game of Thrones is in production, she can enjoy her time on set with the rest of the cast and crew and that their personal and professional relationships are healthy, loving, and supportive.

Weekly Prayer Focus: John Legend

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John Legend (born John Roger Stephens in 1978) is an American singer, songwriter, musician and actor. He has been involved in music his entire life, from performing with his church choir at four years old to serving as the musical director of his college a cappella group to portraying the title role in the recent live adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Legend’s debut album, Get Lifted, was released in 2004. The album won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. Legend was featured on several other records in the following years, including collaborations with Jay Z, Mary J. Blige, The Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, and many others. Legend’s second album, Once Again (2006), was also very successful and earned another Grammy award. These albums effectively kicked off the next decade and more of success for Legend, including multiple award-winning albums, tours, and judging the ABC music show Duets.

In 2016, Legend played the role of Keith in the film La La Land. He co-wrote and performed “Start a Fire” for the film’s soundtrack. Legend also gained producing credit around this time, as a producer of the TV show Underground (2016-2017) and the film Southside with You (2016).

On Easter 2018, Legend played the role of Jesus Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert on NBC. He also was an executive producer of the musical. Legend did an interview with Relevant Magazine prior to the performance about how his religious background helped prepare him for the role. Legend explained that he “grew up playing gospel music.” He also was the choir director at Bethel AME Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania for almost 10 years before the rise of his performance career. Legend says he does not currently consider himself religious, but says, “all of that is still with me.” He’s noticed that there’s been more of a conversation lately about how “Jesus was kind of a revolutionary in his own way. He was fighting the power and speaking out for the underdog almost all the time throughout His life.” Legend’s passion for fighting social injustice seems to be rooted in his church background, which gave him the willingness to engage with complex human issues. He said, “I think it’s important that we continue to examine [Jesus’] words and not to project what our own political motivations are onto Him, but to actually pay attention to what He actually said. What He said about the poor, what He said about loving one another and all the things that He preached, I think sometimes we lose sight of that.” The Relevant article comments, “While Legend may no longer be religious, he carries a moral burden with him. He sees success as a platform. He sees fatherhood as a window to better understand the needy. He sees a society that’s deeply in need of people who will live Jesus’ message—even if they, and he, aren’t sure who He really is.” Legend insists he has “no doubt that the message of Christian love has stayed with me.”

Pray with us for John Legend this week. We are praying that his own performance and involvement in Jesus Christ Superstar has a lasting effect on him in the way that it caused his spiritual background to resurface. We pray that he can develop a new relationship with God and know that Jesus’s message of love can be personal to John himself, not just a message for the world in general. Pray that there would be someone in his life that he is close to and trusts who can represent the hope and joy of Jesus to him. We want to ask God to encounter John in a way that is tangible to him, and help him to know more of who Jesus really is. And we pray that as he gets to know Jesus deeper, John can be a light of joy and represent Jesus in his career, music, relationships, and everyday work.

Weekly Prayer Focus: Auli’i Cravalho

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Auli’i Cravalho is an American actress, voice actress, and singer. She was born in Kohala, Hawaii in 2000 and is 17 years old.

Cravalho made her debut as Moana in the 2016 Disney film (for which she was cast at age 14). She quickly rose to fame thanks to her newly-discovered talent in voice acting and singing. Cravalho (and her voice) have become recognizable to countless children around the world, and she has also arguably become a role model for children and teens in the process.

In February 2017, shortly before her live performance at the Oscars ceremony, Cravalho auditioned for and was cast on the NBC drama Rise. The series premiered on March 13, 2018 and is her first live action role.

In reference to what her next steps will be, Cravalho said “I think I’ve been looking back so much, but I haven’t really looked forward. I’ve realized, my gosh, I was just a freshman in high school and then all of this happened. I’ve missed dances at my school, and I’ve missed assemblies, and I feel like I’ve grown up so much. I’m grateful for everything that has come to me, and I realize the only thing that has really been steady is my mom, and my appreciation for every role that I’ve been given — and I’ve worked hard for it. But I don’t know where I want to go. I want to be happy, and whether that keeps me in this industry or not, I just really want that to be my goal” (Hollywood Reporter).

Cravalho is on HPN’s Kids and Teens Prayer Calendar for March 2018, and one of the prayers on the calendar is “for child and teen actors to stay grounded and develop wisdom.” We pray this for Auli’i Cravalho, especially considering her recent and quick rise to notoriety. With her increased maturity as she continues work in Hollywood, we ask God to give her wisdom and discernment as she chooses her next projects. We pray that she (as well as her management and her family) can be selective with what she participates in, and that nothing she works on will have a negative or damaging effect on her.

We pray that Auli’i will experience the love of God, perhaps even through someone else in the entertainment industry that she works with. We pray especially for coverage of her in the media as her show Rise gains traction, and for responses to her on social media, and that none of it will be invasive, damaging, dehumanizing, or hurtful. We pray for protection over her, and that even if negative words are directed towards her in the media, she will not ever see or hear them. Pray that her relationship with her mom is loving and that her mom is patient, supportive, protecting, and continues to provide a sense of stability for Auli’i.

Weekly Prayer Focus: Chadwick Boseman

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Chadwick Boseman is an American actor born in 1977. He was born and raised in South Carolina, and attended Howard University in Washington, DC to earn a bachelor of fine arts in directing. Boseman originally wanted to write and direct, but began studying acting to better understand actors and how to work with them. He ended up moving to Los Angeles in 2008 to pursue an acting career himself.

In his early career, Boseman’s work included episodes of Third Watch, Law & Order, CSI:NY, and ER. He had a recurring role on the TV series Lincoln Heights in 2008, and in the same year appeared in his first film, The Express. During this time he also continued to write plays, one of which was performed in Chicago (Deep Azure).

In 2010, Boseman appeared in a regular role on the TV series Persons Unknown. He then earned his first starring role, in the film 42, in which he played baseball star Jackie Robinson (2013). During this same year, he had also been directing an off-Broadway play and acting in the indie film The Kill Hole.

Boseman played an NFL draft prospect in Draft Day (2014), and starred as James Brown in Get on Up in the same year. He also played Thoth in Gods of Egypt (2016).

Most recently, Boseman is known as the star of Black Panther (2018), and played the same role in Captain America: Civil War (2016). He will also reprise the role of T’Challa/Black Panther in Avengers: Infinity War later in 2018 (the third in his five-film deal with Marvel).

Boseman was raised Christian, was baptized, and was part of a youth group and church choir. His childhood pastor has spoken about Boseman’s faith, saying he is still a believer.

This week, pray with us for Chadwick Boseman. We pray that he does still feel close to God and that his faith and relationship with God can be strengthened, not weakened, by his acting career. Pray that there are people around him who can encourage him in his faith and bring the truth of Jesus into his life. He has received increased media attention due to the huge popularity and success of Black Panther, so we pray that this attention would be respectful and not invasive to him. Pray that he would have a strong community around him of friends and family who value him as a person, not just for his work and career. We also pray that the roles he plays, whether as Black Panther in upcoming films or any other projects he does, would be an opportunity for him to represent God’s love to people – both on set and in audiences. Pray this week that Chadwick Boseman would feel God’s presence and truly experience His love.

Weekly Prayer Focus: Lupita Nyong’o

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Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan-Mexican actress, born in 1983. She was born in Mexico City, raised in Kenya, then attended college and began her career in the United States.

Nyong’o made her acting debut in the short film East River in 2008. In Kenya, from 2009-2012, she starred in the TV series Shuga. She also wrote, produced, and directed the documentary In My Genes (2009). Following this, she attended the Yale School of Drama to earn a master’s degree in acting.

After graduating, Nyong’o landed her first feature film role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave (2013). Her performance earned her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as nominations for several other acting awards.

Nyong’o co-starred in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) as Maz Kanata, performing both the voice and motion capture for the character. She reprised this role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Also in 2015, she starred in the play Eclipsed (which premiered on Broadway in 2016). She received several recognitions for this performance, including a Tony Award nomination. She performed another voice acting role as Raksha in The Jungle Book (2016), and co-starred in the biopic Queen of Katwe (2016). Most recently, Nyong’o portrayed Nakia in Black Panther (2018).

Nyong’o is involved in many upcoming projects, including her writing debut with a children’s book titled Sulwe (which means “star” in Luo, Nyong’o’s native language). The book reportedly “tells the story of a 5-year-old Kenyan girl of the same name who is insecure about having darker skin than the rest of her family members. With a bit of wisdom from her mother, Sulwe takes a fanciful journey through the night’s sky that helps her embrace the deep hue of her skin” (ew.com). In an Instagram post, Nyong’o wrote, “I hope it serves as an inspiration for everyone to walk with joy in their own skin.”

This week, we pray for Lupita Nyong’o and that she will experience God’s love and know His grace. We thank God for the talent that He has given her, and pray that her work and artistry will glorify Him. Pray that her influence will continue to be positive, and that projects like her upcoming book will be expressions of God’s love and value for all His children. We pray that any followers of Jesus in her life would pray for her and demonstrate God’s love to her. We also pray for discernment and wisdom for her when choosing future projects, and that she will be able to avoid anything that would be damaging to her in any way.