Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Exclusive interview with the stars of Queen of Katwe, Lupita Nyong’o, Madina Nalwanga & Martin Kabanza #QueenofKatweEvent

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

While in LA for the Queen of Katwe event we were very fortunate to be able to sit down and chat with the stars of the film, with Lupita Nyong’o, who portrays “Harriet Mutesi”, Madina Nalwanga “Phiona Mutesi” & Martin Kabanza who played Phiona’s brother “Brian Mugabi” in Queen of Katwe. 

Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Ever wonder what interviewing an Oscar winner is like? Well it is pretty amazing… I am still in awe that I was able to interview Lupita Nyong’o. Her Oscar winning performance in 12 Years a Slave, was spectacular. In person she was stunning, and graceful, just as you would imagine. Sure we are all familiar with the lovely Lupita Nyong’o but I would like to introduce you all to some very talented newcomers Madina Nalwanga, and  Martin Kabanza. 
Madina Nalwanga, grew up in a life similar to Phiona in the movie Queen of Katwe, she too spent her time on the streets selling corn but instead of using chess to get away from the life she was living, Madina used dance as her outlet to escape. She was spotted on the streets and given a chance at the Sosolya Undugu Dance Academy for underprivileged youth. Queen of Katwe was the first acting job form Madina, she learned to act just for this film. Martin Kabanza was discovered while playing football, and made his acting debut in Queen of Katwe. 
I was excited to speak with each of these talented actors. As soon as this trio entered the room you could see their fondness for each other, Lupita was a bit of a mother hen, watching after the kids and making sure they were in the spotlight. This was such a heartwarming interview with some laughs and even some tears. So what did we have to ask these talented folks? Here are some of the great interview questions: 

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.  They were both just so receptive to me and Madina actually taught me how to cook. 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. They’re really hungry and curious and present as actors and it was so lovely for me to have that present kind of immediate condition to work in".
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Martin Kabanza:  "What you talk about Mama?"

Lupita Nyong’o: "They still call me Mama".

Martin Kabanza:   "It was my first time acting, I never knew anything about acting, but she taught us how to get into character.  We used to copy her everything she do.  We tried to do it, so she was so good.  She was a good mom". 

Madina Nalwanga:I really used to copy her and I named myself copycat because every time I could see her getting, getting ready, getting to character and then I do what she was doing in a quiet ways and 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”. 
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

“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, so nice for me to call her mom. She was amazing for me and when I called mom for the first time, she replied to me, and I got touched inside my heart”.   

Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Martin Kabanza:  “I was raised by my grandparents.  My mother left me when I was three months,  because it was my first time to say mom in my mouth”.

When the kids spoke about calling Lupita Mama, it just broke me down to tears. Oh the tears! I saw now why when they all walked into the interview Lupita looked after the children so intently. When the children talked about their “Mama” there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. There was true love there and these kids and Lupita will be forever changed because of this film. To them it was not just a job, not just a film, but they built an amazing relationship.  My daughter calls me Mama, and hearing the love these children had for Lupita, made me think of my daughter and how much I missed her, I just wanted to give her a big hug. It was tough but we had to get it together and go on with the interviews, we still had some great questions to come!

Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Are there any scenes that were especially touching for you?

Lupita Nyong’o:What wasn’t touching?  I do remember once we were about to shoot the eviction scene, where we all, get evicted and these two were very quiet they were quite, pensive and I asked them how they felt. 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 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, challenges of poverty. 

But also the triumph of people who live through it, the fact that poverty is not, is not one’s definition. They were going to have this chance to put that experience of their past into very, very good and immediate use in the scene were about to shoot”….  “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 the, that moment and being able to take their lead as we went to do that scene”.

Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

What was your favorite scene in the movie?
Martin Kabanza :   “Where, I run for the chicken. It was so work for me because all the time I was eating chicken!” 

Lupita Nyong’o:  “I was trying to teach them about 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 like, scarfing it down and I was like, guy, 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, they’re pushing it away.  They didn’t want anything to do with it.” 
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

Madina Nalwanga:  “My favorite part in the movie was seeing David (Oyelowo) running around doing the cat and dog scene because not in my life, I’ve never had someone who has time for me, who has time for all of us.  He had time for us, so he could do the cat and dog playing for us...  It was fun for me.  I liked it, but I felt it because I felt it because ever since, for all of my life, I’ve never had someone like that” “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, collapsing that was my favorite”. 

Martin Kabanza:   “Another time, 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”.

Lupita Nyong’o:  “It was, 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 so 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 and talk and play until we had to go again”.
Photo credit Carol Jones / All Mommy Wants

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 that stretch me and help me to learn something new and deep about the human experience…. 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. I was able to identify with all those people that I met and learn something new about those cultures". 

"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, 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. I am so happy to be able to play a part in, in making the African woman the global woman”. 
Lupita and the kids were so very down to earth and very nice to meet. Each of these newcomers were amazing, in Queen of Katwe. They took to acting very well, I am sure we will see more of them in the future. Lupita was amazing as usual, she has such a knack of becoming the characters she plays and I would not be surprised if another Oscar nod is in her future. 
Have you had the chance to see Queen of Katwe on the big screen? Queen of Katwe is playing now in select theaters, be sure to check your local listings for a theater near you. If there are no theaters playing the film, near you… don’t worry, the movie will be in theaters nationwide starting 9/30/16! Are you looking forward to seeing Queen of Katwe? 

 Like Queen of Katwe on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QueenOfKatwe/
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Visit the Queen of Katwe website: http://movies.disney.com/queen-of-katwe

Queen of Katwe is in theaters in limited release now and everywhere on September 30th!

Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions . No monitory compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review. Your experience may differ. The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .


  1. This definitely looks like a powerful movie that I'll most likely need tissues for. What a great opportunity to interview them. And, I love how they call Lupita Mama.

  2. I am looking forward to watching this movie with my kids. I think it will be great!

  3. I'd love to see this movie! The trailer looks awesome. I'll have to try and fit some time into our schedule to see it. - Sarah, Must Have Mom

  4. What a great opportunity to get to know some new talent! Queen of Katwe looks like a powerful movie and I look forward to seeing it.

  5. I am looking forward to seeing this movie with my daughters. I like the way you were able to get behind the scenes and share information with us about the story and the characters.


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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