British actor David Oyelowo is preparing to double up on projects with Lupita Nyong’o this year after entering talks to star in a new biopic about a Ugandan chess prodigy.
The Selma star has already been tapped to join Nyong’o in the big screen adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah, a love story between two young Nigerian immigrants, and now the actors have been approached to feature in Disney’s Queen of Katwe.
The film is based on the life of Phiona Mutesi, who rose to fame as a master chess player from 2010 after taking part in the annual World Chess Olympiad competitions as a teen. She was named a Woman Candidate Master in 2012 and later became the first female player to win the open category of the National Junior Chess Championship in Uganda.
Her unusual story inspired sports writer Tim Crothers’ 2011 book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster, which was subsequently optioned for a movie project by Disney executives.
Oyelowo is in negotiations to portray Mutesi’s mentor, Robert Katende, while 12 Years A Slave star Nyong’o has been approached to play her mother, Harriet.
Indian director Mira Nair will take charge of the film, which is expected to begin production in South Africa and Uganda in the spring .