Oscars 2014: Lupita Nyong'o beats Jennifer Lawrence to Best Supporting Actress

12 Years a Slave star won for her performance as gutsy slave Patsy

Kenyan rising star Lupita Nyong'o has taken home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, beating American Hustle rival Jennifer Lawrence to the accolade.

Nyong'o, 32, won the award for her debut feature film role as gutsy slave Patsy in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave.

The actress was overcome with emotion when last year's Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz announced her name burying her head in her hands as her family and co-stars bestowed their congratulations.

Taking to the stage, a tearful Nyong'o paid tribute to the harrowing real life events on which the slavery drama is based:

"Thank you to the academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's.

"Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with a breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position.

"I'm certain that the dead are standing around you and are watching and are grateful, and so am I.

"Chiewetel (Ejiofor), thank you for your fearfulness and how deeply you went into telling Solomon's story."

Nyong'o continued to thank her family and friends, including her brother Peter who crashed what must be the best selfie in history, taken by Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres earlier in the night.

Speaking backstage after accepting her award, Nyong'o said:

“I know that my country [Kenya] has been extremely proud of me … I’m so grateful for the support from the entire world. The fact that I won in so many people’s hearts is incredible, and I’m so grateful for that.

“[The Oscar] is in my hands but I haven’t got my mind around it yet. You hear people wanting you to win and predicting you’ll win, but it’s just not real until you hear Christoph Waltz say your name.

“I feel like Willy Wonka in the chocolate factory.”