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Exclusive Interview With Lupita Nyong’o, Madina Nalwanga & Martin Kabanza: Stars Of ‘Queen Of Katwe’

Photo Credit: Carol from
When Lupita Nyong’o walked into the interview room with Madina Nalwanga and Martin Kabanza to chat about their latest roles in Queen Of Katwe, it reminded me of a mother guiding her children in.  The close-ness they excuded was fitting considering Lupita plays Nakku Harriet (mother of Phiona and Brian) in the film and their bond in the movie was evident.  When Madina and Martin began to talk about Lupita and how they look up to her, even mentioning they call her “mom”, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  Seriously, not only did I and my fellow bloggers tear up but Lupita also had to grab a tissue!  It was touching to watch, I felt like I was witnessing a very intimate moment between the three.  The rest of the interview was just as sweet, they would speak about the film, their roles and look upon eachother with smiles and respect.  Check out some of the highlights from the interview:

Photo Credit: Carol from
On Working Together
Lupita: We like each other and we have a lot of fun together. And we had a lot of fun together. I met them before we started shooting. Once Madina was cast, I walked into a rehearsal workshop situation where they had my whole family there and I walked in and she just, she said, “Hi, Mom.” I gave her a big hug, they were both just so receptive to me and Madina actually taught me how to cook. We got food. 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 to, 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.
Mardina: It was my first time acting, but I never knew anything about acting, but she taught us how to get into character. You know, we used to copy her everything she did. She was a good mom. I really used to copy her and I named myself copycat because every time I could see her 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. I could not really cry because you’ll never find dancers sad.
On The Touching Scenes
Lupita: Touching, my goodness. What wasn’t touching? I do remember once we were about to shoot, the eviction scene, where we get evicted, I was sitting in our tent where we’d wait and these two were very quiet as well and they were quite, quite pensive. I asked them, how they felt. They both mentioned how this was their life. You know, 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 challenges of poverty.


Photo Credit: Carol from
On Learning The Uganda Language
Lupita: I did not know Uganda. I didn’t know any Uganda. These guys [Madina and Martin] were my teachers and it was, 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 Uganda. At first I came to Uganda and I was like, yeah, I’m gonna pick up a few Uganda words and then I was introduced to Baby Ivan who plays Baby Richard and he didn’t speak any English. And 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? I loved learning it.
On Their Favorite Scenes
Martin: Where I run for the chicken! It was so work for me because all the time I was eating chicken which was not in my diet.


Lupita: I was trying to teach them, 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 it 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 scarfing it down. I was like, guys, 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 anymore.


Photo Credit: Carol from
Madina: My favorite part in the movie was seeing David 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. 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. 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.
Martin: 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.


Photo Credit: Carol from
After the interview, Lupita, Madina and Martin took a picture with all of us.  After they left, I reflected on just how much each of them resembled their characters in the movie.  Lupita, was caring, sweet but also strong and protective of her children.  Martin was the fun and loving brother figure and Madina was intelligent and driven but also very oriented around her onscreen family.  As I said before, the casting for Queen of Katwe was on point!  It was such a pleasure to be around such talented and genuine individuals.



Queen of Katwe open in select theaters NOW and in theaters everywhere September 30th!!

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