Oscars 2014

Behind the Movie Stars: The Inspirational Stories of the Nominees

From Jared's rocking return to films to Lupita's award-winning movie debut, see how these actors are redefining themselves and making Hollywood history

LUPITA: RACKED UP HONORS FOR HER MOVIE DEBUT

Hollywood's new It girl seemed to pop out of nowhere and for good reason: Lupita Nyong'o's big breakout role in 12 Years a Slave was her first major motion picture. She locked down the part just three weeks before graduating from Yale, and went on to nab a SAG Award, a Critics' Choice Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. "It's definitely an exciting time in my life right now," the 30-year-old told PEOPLE. "A lot of the time it feels quite magical, and I feel it's like an out-of-body experience."