04/27/2014 AT 07:05 PM EDT
In an emotional speech at the ESSENCE
Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in February, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o credited supermodel Alek Wek's success for giving her own self-confidence a huge boost. "She was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was," Nyong'o said. "I couldn't believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful."
PEOPLE introduced Nyong'o to Wek at her photo shoot for this year's 50 Most Beautiful People cover
and the two women quickly realized the admiration was mutual. "I love the genuineness you bring to your craft and just you as a young lady," Wek told Nyong'o. "Beauty should not just be accepted in one culture; it should be universal."