Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo Talk Connecting with ‘Queen of Katwe’ Newcomer
Disney cast acting newcomer Madina Nalwanga as the young star of their new film Queen of Katwe, so her co-stars, Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo did all they could to make her first film experience memorable and comfortable.
The Disney film is based on the true story of a young girl, Phiona Mutesi (played by Nalwanga), who was born into poverty in Uganda, but whose entire world changes after she’s introduced to the game of chess. Lupita Nyong’o stars as Phiona’s cautious, but fierce mother Harriet and Oyelowo stars as Phiona’s mentor, former soccer player Robert Katende. Newcomer Madina Nalwanga stars as the young chess prodigy Phiona.
After Nalwanga was cast, both of her adult co-stars provided as much support to her as possible. Nyong’o told USAToday that as a way to break the ice on set, she asked Nalwanga to teach her something. “I asked (Madina) to teach me how cook a typical Ugandan meal,” she said. Madina ended up teaching her on-screen mom how to prepare “a local banana dish, millet, silverfish and greens.”
Oyelowo, who described his relationship with Nalwanga as “very protective,” also did his part making Madina feel more comfortable by taking her and 7 other kids from the movie out to see Jurassic World–an outing that ended up being Madina’s first time at the movies. “Madina was clawing my arm so much I had nail marks,” he said with a laugh. “She turned to me and said, ‘Coach! Is this what we are doing?’”
Queen of Katwe is Nyong’o’s first film project since her Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave and the actress said that she chose to be part of the movie because of its cultural significance. “To have a film with people that look like me and Madina that they can watch and experience and be motivated by is really precious. Because the impossible can be possible.”
Queen of Katwe opens in limited released on Sept. 23rd and in theaters everywhere September 30th.
Photo Credit: Disney/Facebook