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Queen of Katwe: Why Lupita Nyong'o was perfect for her role

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Edward Echwalu

In her new film Queen of Katwe, Lupita Nyong’o stars as the mother of a 10-year-old Ugandan girl who sets her sights on becoming an international chess champion. It’s an inspirational tale based on a true story, and according to the film’s director, there was no one better than Nyong’o to play the part. 

“For me, there was actually no one else but Lupita from the beginning,” Mira Nair explained in a recent interview with EW. “Because I know her intimately and I know and knew [Nakku] Harriet in the same way.”

Katwe, which recently had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, tells the story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess player whose title of Woman Candidate Master made her one of the first titled female players in the history of Ugandan chess. 

Nyong’o and costar David Oleyowo also discussed the process of making the film and connecting with its story. 

“I was about 10 pages in when I dropped it and I was weeping,” Nyong’o said about the script. “Because I just knew at 10 pages in that this is something special and, at the core of it, there’s this young girl — a true story of a young girl — who, against all odds, achieves a dream of hers. I thought it was just useful.” 

Watch the group discuss Queen of Katwe (which is out in theaters now) in the video above.

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