I could barely contain my joy upon hearing about Lupita Nyong'o's new role. On May 8, the Academy Award-winning actor, recently seen in The Jungle Book and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, shared the first video clips of Queen of Katwe , her newest film. The Disney-produced movie, directed by Mira Nair, is a biographic drama about Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess prodigy with a dream to become a Grand Master. Nyong'o plays Phiona's mother, Harriet Mutesi,and even just judging by the short clip, I wouldn't be surprised if the film, set for a September 2016 release, turns into another Oscar favorite for Nyong'o.
Even more exciting? The backstory of the real-life Phiona Mutesi is insanely inspiring, especially in its messages of feminism and success. According to www.queenofkatwe.com, Mutesi started out on the streets of a Ugandan slum, Katwe. She then learned the art of chess at a community center and went on to become one of Uganda's best chess players, affectionately nicknamed the Queen of Katwe. In even more impressive news, the real-life Mutesi was probably born in 1993 (she's uncertain of her actual age), so her massive success is especially great considering her young age. In the film, Madina Nalwanga will play Mutesi, and it'll be exciting to see what the actor will do with such an interesting, feminist character.
In an ESPN article from 2013 about Mutesei, it's said that she grew up in a one-room shack with her mother, two brothers, and a niece. The article outlines the efforts Phiona's mother, Harriet, went to in an attempt to help her daughter survive and thrive. From waking at 2 a.m to walking five kilometers to feed her family to working to keep her daughter in chess though many in the community disapproved of her playing the "white man's game," Harriet showcased an impressive amount of strength and determination, and Nyong'o will certainly do her proud in the role.
Both women, Phiona and Harriet, are undeniable role modes, and it'll be great to see them get the big-screen treatment they so clearly deserve. Watching their little-known story come to life (specifically by way of people as talented at Nyong'o and Nair) is going to be a wonderful experience.
Images: Twitter/LupitaNyongo, Walt Disney Pictures