Friday, September 30, 2016

An exclusive interview with the real life inspirations for Queen of Katwe, Phiona Mutesi & Robert Katende #QueenofKatweEvent

****Disney provided an all-expense paid trip for me to cover this great event ****

Before each and every interview I get a bit nervous, there are some butterflies in my stomach, it is not a bad feeling, more of feeling of excitement, because I am going to meet some amazing people. The interview with the real life inspirations for Queen of Katwe, Phiona Mutesi & Robert Katende was one of the interviews I was most looking forward to. Unlike other interviews I have done, these were not people playing a part, these were the folks who made history and were the inspirations for the Queen of Katwe book and the eventual Disney movie.  
For me, it was just an awesome feeling to be one of the people to chat with the real inspirations, but unlike celebrity interviews this would be different, I hoped that we all did not overwhelm them with questions, because they are just normal folks like us (well so are celebrities, we are all human, but you know what I mean. Right?) I could only imagine being in the spotlight and answering questions about my life… But Phiona Mutesi & Robert Katende were professionals, they seemed very comfortable, and friendly it was like sitting and chatting with friends you knew forever.

Of course we are all wondering, what is it like to see your story on the big screen? For Phiona she found it interesting, and could not believe it. I would agree, if my story ever hit the big screen it would be unbelievable! Especially since there is not much to tell, but hey you never know where life will bring you? What has surprised you the most in bringing your story to the big screen?  
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Robert Katende, stated:  The whole experience was quite surprising because it's something which I could never have imagined in my life.  It just proved to me, a sense of awareness , encouragement of what you're doing …So to me, that was remarkable because when I look back to my childhood… The whole country now will try to ask, where is Robert?  It's quite amazing to see”.

How was it for Phiona to be in the U.S.? What did she enjoy the most? Did she get to indulge in french fries and ketchup? (You have to see the movie to get that one, it was a pretty funny scene) according to Phiona, she has been indulging in fries and ketchup, and the coolest thing she has gotten to do in the U.S was walking on the Red Carpet.  

Robert Katende, Phiona Mutesi on the Red Carpet for Queen of Katwe
Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

Yes, walking on the Red Carpet is an amazing experience, I would have to totally agree. I can’t imagine being in her shoes, America is so very different than her home, it must have been such an emotional journey. But Phiona, may have never taken this amazing journey without someone who believed in her, a mentor that challenged her to be the very best she could be, her chess coach Robert Katende. How has the role of mentorship played in his life?  
According to Robert, it is something remarkable,Mentorship is not something that is on and off, it is an ongoing process” “Being a mentor allows you to develop tolerance and patience”  It was such a fortunate meeting when these two met, it was like it was meant to be, the teacher and the student both learning from each other.

What life lessons do you think children and adults can learn from chess? According to Robert Katende, “There are several, actually, there are many values that we meet on a daily basis in our lives; child's life that you can involve them well to the platform of chess.  You can tackle, abstractive thinking, problem solving, decision making, weighing options, even responsibility because chess mentors you in finding value and where you have to get comfortable with your decisions, and don't simply make moves.  You should have a plan.  You should have an objective.  It gives you an, an opportunity to where you can  ideas and try to figure out how to bring them to reality”.   
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Chess, like life, can be filled with a good deal of fear and frustration. How do you react in situations of fear and frustration?   Phiona Mutesi “My reaction whenever I would lose a game, most of the time I would cry. The pain of pressure, that's when I cry most.  Like whenever I was in Uganda, I could do most of my games, so here I am; I'm coming to Russia; I thought everything is going to small.  Yet, I forgot about that this before, that is different experience from Uganda and , so from that, I think I got an experience- a great one, and got to learn everything, so it doesn’t affect me anymore. Whenever I lose, it’s just part of the game. I just had to learn from that.”. 

Robert Katende, chimed in and said,Fear, It hinders a lot, especially for the children; that they have nothing to relate to- so no one has ever done it.  They cannot connect . So it's more like, no, you step out.  You be there first.  You take that responsibility. We just offer have real-life situations.  Then the question now is, what do you think is going to change us?  You see yourself; Ask the person, what's going to change this turnaround, to make this happen.  So it's like you start to instill a sense of discipline and responsibility.  You need to see it from their perspective; not look at all- I wish my aunt had done this; oh, I wish my mom was available, but and my personal life, I tell them, look at me.  I'm a typical orphan; I never knew that things would ever change.  But in every case, I had to keep on trying.  I'd rather try than fail to try, and then  I say it didn’t work out"

That end quote, of “I’d rather try than fail to try” this is so very powerful, it reminds us that sometimes you fail sometimes you succeed, but if you never try you will never accomplish much. You have to give things a shot, even if you start small, and try new foods, little things like that, (even if you may be a bit scared) soon you will be trying more and experiencing life like never before.
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Phiona mentioned that she is currently ranked as a Candidate Master in chess. This ranking is three slots before hitting Grandmaster. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain. That is pretty impressive in my eyes. Phiona is still quite young and she will have plenty of time to work on being the champion she dreams of being, and for all she has gone though and persevered through I am sure she will one day realize her dream of being a Grandmaster champion. What advice does Phiona have for young girls that may be scared of stepping out? 
She said to “Have hope in everything you're doing, and just be hard working, and just approve about yourself; you feel like, no, I don't wanna be like this.  Have a dream, I want to be this in my life.  So that, really, right, you're like, I don't want to be like this".   Meeting these real life inspirations was an honor it was something I will never forget. Be sure to go out and see Queen of Katwe, it is an amazing story that makes you laugh, makes you cry and gives you hope to believe in your dreams. Queen of Katwe is playing in theaters everywhere, starting today. 
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Queen of Katwe opens in theaters everywhere today!

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  1. Since our Church does a lot of missions in Africa, and has a strong cultural presence, I am always intrigued and motivated by stories like these. Looking forward to seeing this movie.

  2. This seems like such an amazing movie. I am planning on taking my older daughters to see it. I love reading what the actors thought about the movie, the making of it and the background

  3. What an amazing interview. I can't wait to watch this movie, been hearing so much buzz!

  4. It's so cool to hear directly from the actresses and actors. I always love hearing their stories!

  5. It sounds like a lot of culture was also weaved into the story. So many people don't really chase their dreams.

  6. The behind the scene glimpses are really great to read about before seeing the movie. I think it gives the whole experience more heart. I'm definitely planning on watching this one with my family.

  7. Wow. This interview is nice. My wife asked me if I can go watch with her and I say yes.


Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions, . No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. This is a unofficial fan site that is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or Disney theme parks.

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