Academy award winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o has already undertaken her new project: A Disney production called “Queen of Katwe,” which is set to begin filming in Uganda later this month.
Nyong’o, who was born in Mexico to Kenyan parents, flew into Uganda a few days ago and is already eager to begin shooting.
“I’m loving the food, I’m loving the people, I’m loving the style,” she told a reporter from Rappler. “I don’t feel like leaving. People just have an innate style, so I’m taking notes. And I’m really loving working on this film.”
The Disney production, directed by Indian director Mira Nair, is a biopic centering on legendary chess coach Robert Katende, who teaches chess to children in Kampala’s impoverished Katwe slum. Katende gained a reputation for offering a bowl of porridge to any child that would show up to learn the board game. This offer enticed Phiona Mutesi, who, under Katende’s mentorship, quickly developed a talent for the game and is today a national chess champion who competes internationally.
Katende’s chess program currently runs in five different Kampala slums, and Katende also has hopes to expand it to Kenya. Meeting Nyong’o in person earlier this week, Katende described the actress as “humble” and “down to earth,” despite being an international film star.
Also Mutesi met Nyong’o earlier this week and she was slightly more starstruck to be in her presence.
“I don’t believe it…I’m meeting Lupita,” she said. “This is overwhelming.”
Nyong’o will be portraying Mutesi’s mother, Harriet, in what will become the highest profile film to come out of Uganda since Kevin Macdonald’s 2006 film “The Last King of Scotland.”