Award winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o is to be cast as Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, in a new film about Mustesi’s life called “Queen of Katwe” that is being produced and directed by the likewise acclaimed film director Mira Nair.

Mutesi’s story was the inspiration for a book by Tim Crothers, similarly titled, The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster. 

She’s also been the subject of short documentaries and news reports, capturing her inspiring story. Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan-Mexican actress, who was born in Mexico City, Mexico and is best remembered for her role in “12 years a Slave” earning her an Oscar award for best supporting actress.

Phiona Mutesi, is the first Ugandan and the first East African lady chess player to attain a Women Candidate Master together with her country-mate Ivy Amoko. 

Mutesi grew up in the Ugandan slum of Katwe, where as of 2011 fifty percent of teen girls were mothers; when Mutesi was about three her father died of AIDS and shortly afterwards her older sister Juliet died of an unknown cause. When Mutesi was about nine, and had already dropped out of school as her family could not afford to send her, she found a chess program run by the Sports Outreach Institute, which taught her how to play chess. 

In 2010 she played six rounds on Board 2 and one round on Board 1 for Uganda at the 39th World Chess Olympiad scoring 1.5 points from the seven, and as of 2011 she was a three-time Women’s Junior Champion of Uganda.

Mira Nair, is the founder of Maisha Film Labs, and started to give aspiring filmmaker in the East African country the tools and knowledge to tell their own stories through film, but at the same time help them foster a self sustaining film industry in Uganda.

Nair is married to reknown Ugandan scholar Professor Mahmood Mamdani and is remembered for producing the 1991 award winning Mississippi Masala, which featured American movie star Denzel Washington.

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