Queen of Katwe star Lupita Nyong’o is queening this week on the cover of Time Out London with a fresh angled bob, styled by Larry Sims in a blue button-up shirt.


Inside, the Kenyan actress talks in length about Disney’s Queen of Katwe (directed by Mira Nair), a real life story about a Ugandan chess prodigy,Phiona Mutesi (played by Madina Nalwanga). The Oscar winner plays Phiona’s protective mother.

Here are some of the highlights:

On shooting Queen of Katwe in Africa 

“I was so thrilled to be able to go back to East Africa and shoot a film with Mira Nair. I can’t imagine anyone who could’ve made this film as authentically and lovingly as Mira did. I was an intern at her film company back in 2006, and their slogan is, “If we don’t tell our stories, no one else will.” And I really and truly believe that.”


On the absence of white characters

“It’s very refreshing. It’s all thanks to Tendo Nagenda, who is of Ugandan descent and he’s an executive at Disney. He saw the magic in this story, and you know Disney loves magic. It takes people like that – people in positions of power – who are unafraid of the global. Because the world is made up of all sorts of people. We share more than we differ. And this is an African film that demonstrates that.”

On playing a mother on screen

“I was very nervous about playing a mother, because I’m not a mother. I kind of live for myself at the moment! But it was important for us to bond, to have chemistry and trust. Madina [Nalwanga], who plays Phiona, she’s had a very similar life to the character: she sold maize on the streets as a little girl. So I asked her to take all of us, my entire on-screen family, down to the market. She bought ingredients and did all the haggling, then she taught me how to cook a typical Ugandan meal. That was a real icebreaker, we found our natural dynamics. And Madina was teaching me how to be a mother in the process.”


On dressing up for the red carpet

“I love getting ready for the red carpet. But if I didn’t have a stylist and a make-up artist and a hair stylist and all that, I would not get out of the house. It’s like performance art, that’s how I look at it. And I think: Well, if I’m going to have a Cinderella moment, why not enjoy the hell out of it? It’s not as much fun once you’re on the carpet and all the cameras are flashing. That’s scary.”


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