Lupita Nyong’o won an Independent Spirit award on Saturday for her debut movie role in 12 Years a Slave.
The Kenyan actress told the audience: “Not a bad way to celebrate my birthday.”
Lupita Nyong’o turned 31 a day before the Oscars where she is a front runner for best supporting actress.
12 Years a Slave dominated the Independent Spirit Awards, where it took five prizes.
They included best feature and best director for Steve McQueen.
Other acting trophies went to Cate Blanchett, for her role in Blue Jasmine, and to Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, for their roles as AIDS patients in Dallas Buyers Club.
All three are favorites to win at the Oscars on Sunday night.
The annual Independent Spirit Awards, which honor low budget film-making, take place in a giant tent on Santa Monica beach.
This year the ceremony was accompanied by strong winds and bursts of heavy rain beating down on the tent.
12 Years a Slave also won awards for screenplay and cinematography.
Fruitvale Station was named best first feature while Nebraska won a best first screenplay award.
The documentary prize went to 20 Feet From Stardom, which shines a spotlight on the world of the backing singers.
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