Lupita Nyong’o could be headed for another Oscar in the film directed by Indian-born Mira Nair.
The actress is getting all sorts of award season buzz for her performance in Queen of Katwe as the mother of a child chess prodigy in Africa. Based on the book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster, the film tells the real-life story of Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi.
“I didn’t know about Phiona Mutesi’s story until I got the script for Queen of Katwe and it blew me away, I mean ten pages in and I was in,” Nyong’o said at the movie’s Hollywood premiere at the El Capitan Theater. “I decided I was going to do this film because it was a story unlike any other that I had read coming out of the African continent and with a studio like Disney.
“It was uplifting, it was true, it was funny, it was heartfelt, it had complex characters and I was going to play a mother, I mean a young mother,” she continued. “I was really keen on trying that because it’s something that I had never done before and I really loved the idea of the challenge.”
After playing a mother, Nyong’o cracked, “It’s a lot of work. I have apologized to my mom a lot since I made this film.”
David Oyelowo costars as Phiona’s chess coach.
“I didn’t know anything about it and that’s what is so incredible about the story I think,” the Selma actor said. “You know, these are ordinary people. Yes, she goes on to become a chess champion, but no one outside of Uganda really knows where Katwe, Uganda is. When these kind of films that are true stories…out of Africa are made, they’re political stories, they tend to be about corruption, child soldiers, you know all the negative stuff. But this is just an ordinary girls story about chess. And I think the fact that a young girl in California can look at Phiona in this film and relate is something really beautiful.”
Queen of Katwe is in theaters on Friday, Sept. 23.