Lupita N'yong'o has been named People's Most Beautiful woman.

The 31-year-old actress is thrilled to have taken the coveted title and hopes her appearance on the cover of the publication will help young black women feel ''a little more seen''.

She said: ''It was exciting and just a major, major compliment.

''I was [especially] happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen.''

The Oscar-winning star, who was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya, considered beautiful women to only the ones she saw on television who looked nothing like her.

She said: ''Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair. Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess.''

Lupita claims her mother, Dorothy, ''always'' told her she was beautiful growing up and she ''finally believed her at some point.''

Despite appearing on best-dressed lists after being made to look her best for red carpet events, the '12 Years a Slave' star insists the best compliments come when she is praised for her natural look.

She said: ''[The best compliments are] when I have been called beautiful with not one drop of make-up on.

''And also before I comb my hair or put on a pretty dress. Happiness is the most important thing.''

Last year, Gwyneth Paltrow was named Most Beautiful by the publication.