After a film about a king of Scotland, Ugandans are getting excited over a new movie hitting their country starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. The Disney production’Queen of Katwe’, directed by Mira Nair, is a biopic looking at chess coach Robert Katende and his star pupil Phiona Mutesi, who grew up in Kampala’s Katwe slum.

Nyong’o, born in Mexico to Kenyan parents, jetted into neighboring Uganda a few days ago for her first job in East Africa since taking the 2014 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave.Of being in Uganda ahead of the start of production she said, “I’m loving the food, I’m loving the people, I’m loving the style,” Despite her Kenyan roots, Ugandans are also proud of Nyong’o, and part of her Oscar speech is painted on the wall of a local cafe. “It’s so lovely to be around people that are my complexion all the time, that’s been a breath of fresh air,” said Nyong’o, “What I love about being in Uganda so far is that I can be myself. I don’t feel restricted.”

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Queen of Katwe centres around Phiona, after happening upon chess as a famished nine-year-old, Phiona now 18, quickly developed a talent for the game and became a national champion, going on to participate in international Olympiads and becoming a Woman Candidate Master (WCM).

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Nyong’o is portraying Phiona’s mother, Harriet Mutesi, in the highest profile film project to come to Uganda since the 2006 movie The Last King of Scotland about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, which garnered an Oscar for Forest Whitaker in the title role. “I didn’t know that chess could make such a difference in people’s lives, a fundamental difference in how they look at themselves and deal with the life ahead of them,” the 32-year-old told reporters at a press conference with Nair, Katende and Mutesi. Nyong’o said the movie was an “empowering story about what’s possible if you allow yourself to dream”. Queen of Katwe will also star Selma actor David Oyelowo, with 20 street kids as “chess pioneers”.

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“It’s not very often that you see a positive image of Africa on screen.” said Lupita.

Well all we can say is we can’t wait to see how the film turns out and we’re most certainly looking forward to Nyong’o’s performance.


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