I am so excited to finally bring you our group Interview with the beautiful and talented cast of Disney’s Queen of Katwe. The cast included in this interview was the beautiful Lupita Nyong’o who played (Phiona’s mother “Harriet Mutesi”) , Madina Nalwanga (“Phiona Mutesi”) & Martin Kabanza (Phiona’s brother “Brian Mugabi”).
I loved interviewing this cast for this film, Madina was gorgeous in her dress and her smile is contagious. You cannot help but smile when you see her as she lights up a room with her spirit and power. Lupita is as always stunning and a joy to interview, she is very insightful and is able to help guide you really feel like you were with her every step of the way during filming.
The spunky Martin is so handsome and loves his Boda, I can’t blame him I love Boda too! He had so much to say and I only wish we had more time to chat with those 3 amazing actors. You could totally feel the spirit of love between these three and also the great chemistry which made this interview so much better.
What was it like?
As with any movie or TV show, we always wonder what it is like to work with other talented actors. Take a look at what it was like for the three all-star cast of Disney’s Queen of Katwe to work together on and off set.
Question : What was the three of you working together like?
Lupita Nyong’o : We like each other and we had a lot of fun together. I met them before we started shooting. Once Madina was cast, it was a long process for her to be cast and then when she was finally cast, I walked into a rehearsal workshop situation where they had my whole family there and I walked in and she said, hi, Mom.
I gave her a big hug and it was like, and they were both just so receptive to me and Madina actually taught me how to cook. She sold corn in her past and I asked her to show me to go shopping in the market. How she’d do it and we went back too, she did all the shopping. My whole onscreen family, we went and did it together and then we went back to her house and she showed me how to prepare the meal.
We all played a role in, in the preparation of the meal. We broke the ice, we had a really great working relationship. They’re really hungry and curious and present as actors and it was so lovely for me to have that kind of present kind of immediate condition to work in. They still call me mama.
Martin Kabanza : It was my first time acting, but I never knew anything about acting, but she taught us how to get into character. We used to copy her, everything she does, we tried to do it , so she was so good. She was a good mom.
Madina Nalwanga : And I really used to copy her and I named myself copycat because every time I could see her getting ready, getting into character and then I do what she was doing in a quiet way where she can’t see me, but she was really good and she really helped me in some of the hard scenes that are really hard because I could not really cry because you’ll never find dancers sad. We are always happy and she was there for me to make sure that I get into character so that I can cry. She really helped me so much.
Madina Nalwanga : That’s why I still call her mom because ever since I was young and I ever since I left my mom because she wanted me to go to school and that’s why I left her, I’ve never had someone else or anyone else that I’ve ever called Mom since I was four up to last year, so she was the first one to be called mom from my mom and it was so,nice for me to call her mom.
And she really acts it. Yes. Do you want this? So it was really nice for me to meet her and she was amazing for me and when I called her mom for the first time, she replied to me, and I got touched inside my heart. Say, okay, so I can call her mom on tape and she will say yes, so it was really good meeting her.
Martin Kabanza : I was raised by my grandparents. My mother left me when I was three months, so,this was my first time to say mom in my mouth. Yes. Not a dry eye.
Question : Are there any scenes that were especially touching for you?
Lupita Nyong’o : Touching, my goodness. What wasn’t touching? I do remember once we were about to shoot the eviction scene, where we all get evicted and I was sitting in our tent where we’d wait and these two were very quiet as well and they were quite, quite pensive and I asked them how they felt.
And they both mentioned how this was their life, they both experienced evictions in their past and I just remember being really moved at how this, the artifice was reflecting a real life in Phiona, but also a real in both of them and that they were having this chance to tell their story, to bring it to a larger audience that would understand the, the challenges of poverty.
But also the triumph of people who live through it and the fact that poverty is not one’s definition, and that they were going to have this chance to put that experience of their past into very good and immediate use in the scene were about to shoot. Obviously, I come from a very different background. I come from a background of privilege and so I was very humbled in that moment.
Here I am playing the mother and being the shepherdess of these two going through this experience and yet, I was learning so much from them, I was just humbled by that moment and being able to take their lead as we went to do that scene.
Lupita Nyongo’s Vouge Cover
As many of you know Lupita has graced the cover of Vogue Magazine not once but twice! Here is your first-hand coverage of what it was like for her to have had the honor to shoot this edition in her home.
Question : How did you feel when you saw the cover?
Lupita Nyong’o : I was just so touched when Vogue said they wanted to do another cover with me, of course I was elated and then they said we would love it to be about you in a different kind of way and they were interested in doing a trip to Africa. Then I said the only place go was home.
It’s home and the place that means the most to me is my village, Ragda, where my grandparents are, it’s my ancestral home and I spent my vacations there as a child and it’s where my whole extended family would come together and we’d pass the holidays together and so to see that place, that light, that equatorial light on the cover of Vogue and to find my grandmother in the pages inside, I was just like,. Oh my God, it was everything I hoped it would be, and more because the part of Kenya,is known for, to be a tourist destination.
We have all the wildlife and that attracts thousands, hundreds of thousands every year, but Kisumo, the Western part is not a tourist darling at all, and yet, it’s magnificent. I think it’s magnificent with the rock formation of Kitmekai and, and just the colors. The Lake Victoria. The fishing. And it’s the thing that actually brings Uganda and Kenya together. We share the Lake Victoria and we shot Queen of Katwe on one side of Lake Victoria and you see that in the film and then the Vogue shoot was on the other side of it, and so for me, that was a tie-in and it was a thing that I felt brought the film and me being on the cover together.
Question : What was it like learning Luganda and did you know it before?
Lupita Nyong’o : I didn’t know any Luganda. Well, these guys were my teachers,that’s what’s was so great about being in Uganda is that I got to immerse myself in the culture and I had to learn Luganda because and you know, at first I came to Uganda and I was gonna pick up a few Luganda words and then I was introduced to Baby Ivan who plays Baby Richard and he didn’t speak any English.
The first time he was given to me, he went right back to the person who gave him to me because he didn’t trust me and I couldn’t have a conversation with him and then I realized that Uganda was my lifesaver. It was going to really be my lifesaver and so I got to work learning Uganda and I would ask all the time how to say things and write them down and I needed to say very basic things to this boy like, do you need to pee? Are you hungry? Stop doing that. Keep quiet, Yeah, so it came in very, very handy and I loved learning it.
Favorite Scenes in the Movie
After watching Queen of Katwe two times I found so many of my favorite scenes throughout the movie. It’s very hard to narrow down what I believe is my top favorite choices, I can only imagine what it would be like for the actors. They share below the few scenes that really touched them.
Question : What was your favorite scene in the movie?
Martin Kabanza : My favorite scene was boda, Where I run for the chicken. It was alot of work for me because all the time I was eating chicken.
Lupita Nyong’o : I was trying to teach them about when I made this mistake of twelve years when they give you food, you can’t eat too much of it because there’s going to be so many takes and you’re going to be sick by the time you finish the scene and I wasn’t there for that scene, but we had a scene where we had to eat this stew and the art department made this stew so good, so all the kids were just scarfing it down and I was like, guy’s you’ve got to slow down because you’re not going to make it and then before you know it, and they didn’t want. By the time we’re shooting the thing, they’re like, pushing it away. They didn’t want anything to do with it.
Madina Nalwanga : Yeah, so with me, my favorite part in the movie was seeing David running around doing the cat and dog scene because in my life, I’ve never had someone who has time for me, who has time for all of us. Like, he had time for us, so he could do the cat and dog playing for us and I looked at him. It was fun for me. I liked it, but I felt it because ever since, for all of my life, I’ve never had someone like that.
And he had time for us, so I respected him, his time and I enjoyed watching what he was doing for us and it was so amazing to see him jumping. Jumping over the bed, collapsing so that was my favorite.
The Flood Scene
One of the scenes in this movie that really stuck out to me was the flood scene. To see how the family handled a real-life flood which seemed to happen a lot was heart breaking. They lost all of their things in the flood and almost a beloved family member.
Martin Kabanza : Another scene that I liked in the movie is the flood scene I like Mama doing it. She was so real and me, I didn’t have that power of crying, but she made me cry in that scene because she was so real.
—–We were all crying for that scene.
Lupita Nyong’o : It was really cold and we shot that in South Africa over four days and it was the winter time in South Africa, so it was a little shy of thirty degrees, we would get to set, get into our costumes, go into a hot tub, get wet and then go into this freezing cold water all day and every time they said, cut, we’d run to this hot tub and just sit in and then we got all muddy because of the mud in the water and we’d just sit there and, sing, talk and play until we had to go again.
Madina Nalwanga : Yeah, I also had another second scene. This scene where by here is to be knocked by a boda boda. It was so bad for me because I’ve never experienced that because it has never knocked me. I had an accident with a car when I was little, so I saw a human being knocked down, so I knew it happens and how it feels to see someone in that much pain. It was so, so bad for me and to make me remember the conditions that I was in when I was knocked down by a car, so that was my favorite one.
What It’s Like For Lupita To Play a Strong African Woman Role
Question : Do you prefer roles in stories that have never been told and what do you hope to bring to the forefront in playing those roles?
Lupita Nyong’o : I love playing roles that stretch me and help me to learn something new and deep about the human experience. I particularly, I mean, it was not by design that I set out to play African women, but how happy I am to have had these opportunities because I think it’s the Africa all to often is a blanket. It’s just a blanket statement. There’s no specificity. It’s a very general wash of ideas.
That people have of this continent where I’m from and I know, being from there, that it is many splendors and so to be able to bring to the forefront stories, particular and specific stories about African women in their variety is so exciting to me because I’m a child of global popular culture. I grew up watching Mexican, Brazilian, Australian, English, American TV, and Cinema.
I think I was able to identify with all those people that I met and learn something new about those cultures. I’d never worn a winter coat, but I know when you’re in New York, you have a winter coat. As much as I identified with the sibling rivalry or the heartbreak or whatnot and so for an African story to be playing that same kind of role, being I, a universal story that’s still and it’s specificity as we find with Phiona Mutesi in this story of Queen of Katwe, it is my pride and my joy.
And I am so happy to be able to play a part in making the African woman the global woman.
Director Mira Nair, actors Madina Nalwanga, Lupita Nyong’o and Martin Kabanza (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)
Were you able to find out the answers to your own questions through this interview? Have you seen the movie yet? Queen of Katwe is playing everywhere September 29th, 2016
Head over HERE to check out my full Red Carpet Experience for Disney’s Queen of Katwe. There are some fun photos and info about my first-hand experience.
Head over HERE to check out my full Queen of Katwe Movie Review read some memorable quotes from the movie and get an inside look about what to expect.
A Quick Recap of the Movie.
“Queen of Katwe” is the colorful true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.
Recognizing Phiona’s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she’s inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her, but Harriet is reluctant to provide any encouragement, not wanting to see her daughter disappointed. As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling.
She quickly advances through the ranks in tournaments but breaks away from her family to focus on her own life. Her mother eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family. Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” will open in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2016.
Directed by Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”) from a screenplay by William Wheeler (“The Hoax”) based on the book by Tim Crothers, “Queen of Katwe” is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher (“The Darjeeling Limited”) and John Carls (“Where the Wild Things Are”) with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo (“Selma”), Oscar® winner and Tony Award® nominee Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”) and newcomer Madina Nalwanga.
Also don’t forget to listen to the #1 Spice Music Video which I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with. My kid’s and I love this song! You can’t help but dance when you hear it.
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