Lupita Nyong'o is People magazine's Most Beautiful person

Lupita Nyong'o is People's Most Beautiful person for 2014, the magazine revealed Wednesday morning on TODAY. The Oscar winner with the perfect smile and the style to match beams from a cover that promises "her inspiring story."

IMAGE: Lupita Nyong'o Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Nyong'o shimmered in emerald green at the EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 in London on Feb. 16.

For the 31-year-old Mexican-born Kenyan actress, it's a story that largely came to light during awards season as she collected trophies at every turn for her role in the film "12 Years a Slave." Along the way she turned heads on all the red carpets upon which she set foot, as her poise and beauty landed her on best-dressed lists and countless other magazine covers.

PEOPLE: Most Beautiful women, then and now

With the full range of the color spectrum at her effortless disposal, Nyong'o wowed in red Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globes and stole the show in emerald green Dior at the BAFTAs. 

Appearances in purple, pink, white and more were only trumped when she completed her run as a picture of perfection in blue Prada at the Oscars.

TODAY's Savannah Guthrie recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Nyong'o, who expressed her appreciation for the People cover nod.

"I'm flattered, but flattered sounds like such a flighty word, you know?" Nyong'o said. "I'm flattered with, like, gravitas under it."

When she was honored in February at the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, a speech she gave on beauty and "dark beauty" in particular touched a viral nerve. She said she remembered a time when she felt "unbeautiful," when she was "teased and taunted for her night-shaded skin" and how her complexion "had always been an obstacle to overcome."

IMAGE: Lupita Nyong'o Jordan Strauss / AP
Nyong'o's gown was as red as the red carpet at the Golden Globes on Jan. 12.

Nyong'o said her mother's words encouraged her to understand that "you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us ... what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul."

"What an incredible journey to go from that feeling to being on the cover of this magazine," Nyong'o told Guthrie. "I mean, you could have never told me that that would happen when I was 16 and insecure about my complexion."

PEOPLE: From child stars to grown-up beauties

Earlier this month, the French makeup and skincare giant Lancôme named Nyong'o its first black ambassador for its product line, which the actress called an honor.

"I am particularly proud to represent its unique vision for women and the idea that beauty should not be dictated, but should instead be an expression of a woman's freedom to be herself," Nyong'o said.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Lupita Nyong'o and her colorful wardrobe

    Bright yellow, sky blue, rich red, shimmering gold — there's not a color that the fashionably adventurous Oscar-winning actress hasn't conquered.

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    Over the rainbow -

    Actress Lupita Nyong'o has been selected as People magazine's Most Beautiful person, 2014. As the star rocketed to fame this past year, she became known for wearing a different color gown to every public event. But at the MTV Movie Awards on April 13, 2014, she combined them all on her confetti-flecked Chanel dress, matched with sky-blue Casadei pumps.

    Jason Merritt / Getty Images
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    Striking silhouette -

    Nyong'o wore an Antonio Berardi green iridescent dress with bright blue waist panels to the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on April 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Valerie Macon / Getty Images
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    In bloom -

    Nyong'o wore a flower-sprinkled Giambattista Valli couture dress and Christian Louboutin pumps to the Marie Claire's Fresh Faces Party on April 8, 2014 in West Hollywood, Calif.

    Valerie Macon / Getty Images
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    Soaring sky -

    Nyong'o's pale blue Prada gown, worn to the Oscars on March 2, 2014, reminded her of Nairobi, Kenya, where she was raised. It was also inspired by a gown Elizabeth Taylor wore in 1969. The silk pleated gown was much in the spotlight when Nyong'o won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Patsey in "12 Years a Slave."

    Jordan Strauss / AP
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    Accompanying Oscar -

    Nyong'o changed into a Miu Miu seafoam-green gown for the Vanity Fair Oscar party, on March 2, 2014. Her purse was by Prada and her jewelry by Fred Leighton, but the little gold guy in her arms made for the ultimate accessory.

    Evan Agostini / AP
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    Ab-solutely -

    Nyong'o showed off her abs in an indigo and white Michael Kors dress worn to the 7th Annual Women in Film pre-Oscar cocktail party on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014.

    Omar Vega / AP
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    Essence of beauty -

    Nyong'o wore a crop top and skirt by Giambattista Valli to the 7th Annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood luncheon on Feb. 27, 2014, and delivered a moving speech about her her journey to feeling beautiful.

    Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
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    Bluer than blue -

    Nyong'o played the blues in a Stella McCartney cutout dress when she was honored by Sally Morrison & LoveGold at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, 2014.

    Gabriel Olsen / Getty Images
  • Lupita Nyong'o and her colorful wardrobe

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    Copper celebration -

    N'yongo wore a shiny copper-colored dress by Lanvin to the world premiere of the film "Non-Stop" on Feb. 24, 2014 in Los Angeles.

    Frederic J. Brown / AFP-Getty Images
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    Orange on the red carpet -

    Nyong'o shone in an orange Givenchy gown at the 45th NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 22, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif.

    Arnold Turner / AP
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    Easy being green -

    Nyong'o chose an emerald-green silk Christian Dior gown with a fishtail hem for the EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 at London's Royal Opera House on Feb. 16, 2014.

    Full story: Lupita Nyong'o is People magazine's Most Beautiful person.

    Chris Jackson / Getty Images
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    Pretty in pastel -

    Nyong'o and Naomi Watts attend the Calvin Klein Collection fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on Feb. 13, 2014 in New York.

    Larry Busacca / Getty Images
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    Hooray for Hollywood -

    Nyong'o wore a gold Valentino gown to The Hollywood Reporter's Annual Nominees Night Party at Spago on Feb. 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images
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    Spring has spring -

    Nyong'o wore a breezy orange-and-pink Dior dress to the 86th Oscar nominees luncheon on Feb.10, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Matt Sayles / AP
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    Regal purple -

    Nyong'o wore a plum-colored top and trousers by Cushnie et Ochs when she appeared on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" on Jan. 22, 2014 in New York.

    Theo Wargo / Getty Images
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    Sleek and serious -

    Nyong'o chose a caramel-colored Stella McCartney dress to the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards on Jan. 19, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
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    Lady in red -

    Nyong'o's ravishing red Ralph Lauren ensemble, complete with cape, matched the red carpet at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Jan. 12, 2014.

    Jordan Strauss / AP
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    Terrific turquoise -

    Nyong'o was dressed in a turquoise Gucci gown with an elaborate flower collar when she accepted the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role for "12 Years a Slave," at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 18, 2014.

    Frank Micelotta / AP
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    Bloom where you're planted -

    Nyong'o wore a Valentina dress bursting with flowers to the Entertainment Weekly celebration honoring SAG Awards nominees at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles on Jan. 17, 2014.

    Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images
  • Lupita Nyong'o and her colorful wardrobe

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    Creative cut-outs -

    N'yongo poses in her elaborately cut-out Calvin Klein gown during red carpet arrivals for the Critic's Choice Awards in Santa Monica, Calif. on Jan. 16, 2014.

    Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images
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    Snazzy shorts -

    Nyong'o went with shorts and a top by Peter Pilotto for the 2014 Film Independent Filmmaker Grant And Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch at BOA Steakhouse on Jan. 11, 2014 in West Hollywood, Calif.

    Joe Kohen / Getty Images
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    Put a bow on it -

    Nyong'o wore a white strapless Lanvin gown, complete with bow, to the IFP's 23nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on Dec. 2, 2013 in New York.

    Jemal Countess / Getty Images for IFP
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    Pretty in pink -

    Nyong'o chose a pale pink sheath by Cushnie et Ochs for the GQ Men Of The Year Party at The Ebell Club of Los Angeles on Nov. 12, 2013.

    Michael Buckner / Getty Images
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    Here comes the sun -

    Nyong'o went with a sunny yellow Honor sweater and floral shorts when she posed at the Guess Portrait Studio during the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 7, 2013.

    Larry Busacca / Getty Images

With more than 1 million followers on Instagram, Nyong'o has also shared her own seemingly humble reaction to her quick rise to fame and the praise bestowed upon her. Through selfies and re-grams of magazine covers and photos of her style choices for assorted events, the feed only bolsters what People magazine asserted on Wednesday.

When asked by Guthrie about the craziest thing to happen during her run as a newfound "it girl," Nyong'o said, "I have a good one for you."

IMAGE: Lupita Nyong'o Frank Micelotta / AP
Nyong'o wore a turquoise gown with an elaborate design to the SAG Awards.

"I was sitting, getting my hair cut, and someone passed by, and peered in and said, 'You're really beautiful.'" Nyong'o told Guthrie. "And I said, 'Thank you.' And he said, 'You know that girl in '12 Years a Slave,' that actress? You look just like her.' I said, 'Thank you so much.'"

This is the 25th year of People's Most Beautiful issue. Michelle Pfeiffer graced the first cover in 1990, and Julia Roberts has the most cover appearances, with four (1991, 2000, 2005, 2010). The magazine also noted that Halle Berry has appeared in the pages of the issue 16 times and once on the cover (2003). Three men have graced the cover: Mel Gibson (1996); Tom Cruise (1997); and Leonardo DiCaprio (1998).

Last year's Most Beautiful person was Gwyneth Paltrow.

Others on this year's list of 50 include Keri Russell, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Mindy Kaling, Kerry Washington, Pink and Amber Heard.

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