Oscar Award Winner Lupita Nyong’o has done it again, this time with a remarkable Ugandan story: The Queen of Katwe.
The Kenyan-born star plays the mother of global chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, a 16-year-old who shocked the world with her unmatched chess mastery.
The Disney film tells the tale of the uneducated slum-raised girl who learned chess just to get a bowl of porridge from a missionary program, deep in the bowels of Katwe slum.
Despite not knowing how to read or write, she quickly mastered the complex board game – beating fellow children, soon besting college graduates and even her own instructor.
Joining Uganda’s national chess team, Mutesi travelled to Siberia and made a splash at the 39th Chess Olimpiad in 2010.
She came home to a hero’s welcome, and soon journalists from across the world were travelling to Katwe slums to tell the tale of the “global underdog” who bested all odds to beat some of the globe’s best players. Soon, Disney came knocking and the film the The Queen of Katwe was filmed.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the film and her experience during the shooting, Nyong’o noted that life in Katwe was undoubtedly difficult.
“There is a resilience of spirit in Uganda. The slum of Katwe is a very difficult place to live, but you see these people living there with dignity. To go there and to have that environment to work from really did give life and meaning to our work. It was research, obstacle and inspiration,” she stated.
Reflecting on her remarkable journey, Mutesi said that she is overwhelmed and thankful about her success. She said chess has opened her up to opportunities that she previously deemed unattainable, adding that she desires to pursue medicine.
The film will be released in the US on the 23rd of September.