Lupita Nyong'o felt "mortified" by her "structured" lifestyle when she moved to America.
The 30-year-old actress was born in Mexico and grew up in Kenya with her parents and five siblings.
After moving back to her country of birth at the age of 16, Lupita later upped sticks to the US, where she attended Hampshire College to get a degree in film and theatre studies.
As she settled into her new surroundings, she found the relaxed atmosphere a shock to the system.
"I thrive on structure. I find my freedom in structure. It was very hard to adjust to an individualistic and very liberal system. I mean, my upbringing, I would iron my clothes every night. I would plan what I wore the night before, and then I would iron it," she recalled to New York Magazine.
"That's just the way my mom raised us. Then I got to Hampshire, where clothing is sometimes optional and all this kind of thing. I was mortified."
Once she graduated Lupita began her career working with film production crews. It was her role as an assistant on the set of 2005 movie The Constant Gardener, which stars Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, where she got her first piece of valuable advice.
"[Ralph] asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I very timidly admitted that I was interested in being an actor," she explained.
"He sighed and said, 'If there's something else that you want to do, do that. Only act if you feel you can't live without it.' It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but it was the thing I needed to hear."
Luckily her determination paid off and Lupita landed her biggest role to date as Patsey in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave.
Following her audition, the star found herself at dinner with Steve and her future co-star Michael Fassbender, which led to the director calling her straight after and offering her the part.
"I wanted to bask in the sun and take in the last 24 hours, wrap my head around what had just happened," she mused. "I sat on the pavement, immediately terrified and intimidated by the entire thing."© Cover Media