Last week I had the pleasure of attending the red carpet premiere of Disney’s Queen of Katwe in Hollywood. (Read more about that here!) Queen of Katwe is the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young girl from the slums of Uganda. Introduced to chess via a youth outreach program she happened upon one day, her intrigue and skill with the game changed her life completely. Facing family struggles and challenges that her life posed, Disney’s Queen of Katwe is an uplifting story about never giving up or giving in, keeping your eyes on the big picture and remaining hopeful about the possibilities life has to offer.
That’s a message we can all stand to hear.
The role of Phiona is played by Madina Nalwanga, a beautiful young actress with a big future ahead of her. (Stay tuned later this week for my posts about our interview with her and others from the cast.) Coached by missionary Robert Katende (played by David Oyelowo), Phiona rises above the limitations. Phiona’s mother is played by Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o, and she is reason enough to go see this movie — though there are many reasons. Her talent is unquestionable as she plays the strong, tough and loving mother of five as they struggle together to get through each day, facing situations most of us can never even imagine.
Any mother out there will tell you that we want our children to grow and learn and create a life for themselves, but it’s not always easy to do. Our instinct is to protect, but there’s a fine line between the two very necessary roles of a parent. Phiona’s a young girl with what seems to be a predictable future, until she realizes she enjoys the game of chess. Seeing how much it can change her life is exciting for her but her mother has the typical fears any mother would have. Will this take her away from me? Will she be safe in this new world? Accepted? How will it change her?
As some of her mother’s fears are realized, the family faces other difficulties. Phiona’s new life ends up being a saving grace and seeing the mother and daughter bond in new ways is as heartwarming as a story gets. Her mother has the best of intentions but has also faced so many tough trials in her own life, she has an understandably realistic approach. As the story unfolds and missionary Robert Katende (and his lovely wife) help this group of children transform, we witness the miraculous changes this group faces together. The insurmountable odds that Phiona overcomes are so hard to comprehend, and her courage is clearly an inherited trait.
Directed by the beautiful and talented Mira Mair, Disney’s Queen of Katwe is a story for everyone. Mothers, fathers, children, singles, couples, you don’t need children with you to see this movie. You will come out of that theater with a new appreciation for what you have in life. What you don’t have will matter less. As a mom, I want my kids to all see this movie. I think we sometimes become complacent in life and forget how truly lucky we are. That’s a reminder we can all stand to get now and then.
Watch the Queen of Katwe trailer and then buy your tickets. You won’t be sorry.
#1 spice….#1 spice…