Is there anyone who has made an instant splash in Hollywood the way Lupita Nyong'o has? In her first role she won an Academy Award for her devastating performance in 12 Years a Slave, but it's what she's done after that which may be her greatest achievement. Since then she has been very picky about the roles shes takes, landing a couple of voice roles in The Jungle Book and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, both HUGE hits by the way, and taking on more responsibility as a producer. Through her newfound clout she's decided to make movies that are outside of the Hollywood norm, and Queen of Katwe definitely qualifies.
The film, a co-production between Disney and ESPN, tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a young girl from the slums of Katwe, Uganda who became a chess grandmaster. Nyong'o plays Phiona's strong-willed mother, Nakku Harriet, who hopes to protect her daughter from potential disappointment. Nyong'o's longtime friend Mira Nair directs, building upon her experience as a resident of Uganda to imbue the film with an authenticity that transcends the typical Disney underdog story.
Along with a few others I had the chance to speak with Nyong'o, who has this regal sort of aura about her. She talked about the challenges of playing, a mother of four with a fiery personality. She also discussed her working relationship with Nair, her desire to tell diverse stories that can inspire girls all around the world, and how she learned to be herself within the Hollywood system. You can listen to that interview below, and check out Queen of Katwe when it opens on September 23rd.