‘Queen of Katwe’ Star David Oyelowo ‘Couldn’t Believe Disney Was Making a Movie Like This’

Queen of Katwe
Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

At the Los Angeles premiere of “Queen of Katwe,” which screened at the El Capitan Theatre, star David Oyelowo star talked about how his culture and background made the film resonate with him.

“I sort of did it as a love letter for my daughter Zoe,” the actor said. “It’s the first time I’ve done a film that I can take my whole family to. For someone of African descent myself to see a positive, life-affirming story like this was something I really wanted to be a part of. I couldn’t believe Disney was making a movie like this.”

“Queen of Katwe” is an uplifting story about the underdog. Set in Uganda, the story follows Phiona Mutesi, a young girl who dreams of playing chess. However, the film’s screenwriter, William Wheeler, comes from a completely different background than the film’s protagonists.

“I didn’t grow up in Uganda. It’s as much as an empathic leap as I’ve ever done as a writer,” said Wheeler.

When asked if he had faced criticism regarding his white background, Wheeler said he has faced none.

“I’ve thought about that because it’s a relevant question. I trusted the people involved who thought I would be helpful to the story,” Wheeler said. “I had to trust them – they knew who I was and where I came from and my perspective and those things can be helpful. It wasn’t my job to disqualify myself so I figured I’d put my faith in them.”

Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Harriet Mutesi, instantly felt a connection with the material and jumped at the chance to play the role.

“I was less than ten pages in when I decided to be part of the film because it’s a true story, an uplifting one about a young girl with a big dream. The characters that I met in those ten pages were complex and layered and interesting and I wanted to be part of telling this story – it doesn’t come around very often,” said Nyong’o.

“Queen of Katwe” makes its move on September 23.