Nyong’o is considered the frontrunner for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award alongside French actress Lea Seydoux, the star of the intense lesbian love story “Blue Is The Warmest Colour”.
British actors Will Poulter, star of “We’re The Millers” featuring Jennifer Aniston, and George MacKay – who got his big break starring alongside Clive Owen in “The Boys Are Back” – were also among those shortlisted.
Nyong’o made her movie debut in “12 Years”, based on the true story of a free African-American man who was kidnapped in the 19th century and forced into slavery.
Directed by British filmmaker Steve McQueen, the movie has seven nominations for the US Golden Globes, 13 at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and four for the Screen Actors Guild awards.
Seydoux joined Poulter and MacKay in London to celebrate their nominations.
The French actress, who has admitted how difficult she found it to endure the long sex scenes in “Blue Is The Warmest Colour”, said that starring in the highly acclaimed film had changed her life.
“It was a big success in France and all over the world,” she said.
“So all the people are very touched by the film, and I’m very proud of the film and the fact that everybody loves it.”
Poulter, 20, began acting as a child and made his name in 2007’s “Son Of Rambow” but admitted it had been a new experience for him to star in the big-budget “We’re The Millers”.
He said: “I remember my first film being a very small British independent and the second one being a big American studio shot in Australia and I was very young then, and that was my only experience of big-budget films.
“So when ‘We’re The Millers’ came along I really didn’t feel I was even capable of it. I was like ‘I’ve only ever done this once before, I don’t think I can do it again, I just scraped through the last time’.
“But it was fantastic to be involved in something like that and a real dream come true to work with the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis. I was very, very lucky.”
The nominees were selected by a group of jurors including “Quantum of Solace” actress Gemma Arterton and film critic Mark Kermode.
The award is decided by public vote and the winner will be announced at the Bafta award ceremony on February 16.