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David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o are in negotiations to star in Disney’s Queen of Katwe, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The story centers on a young girl from the slums of Uganda who, with the help of her coach, becomes a chess prodigy.
Mira Nair will direct the film from a script by William Wheeler, who also penned the screenplay for Nair’s previous film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
The story is based on an ESPN Magazine article and the 2012 book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster, both by Tim Crothers.
Oyelowo, who is traveling the awards circuit this season with his lead role as Martin Luther King Jr. in Paramount’s Selma, would play the coach, Robert Katende. Oscar-winner Nyong’o would take on the role of the child’s mother, Harriet Mutesi.
John Carls and Lydia Dean Pilcher will produce along with ESPN Films.
Oyelowo and Nyong’o are also both atttached to another film: Americanah, about a pair of young Nigerian immigrants.
Along with his critically praised role as Martin Luther King Jr. (for which he’s nominated for a Golden Globe this weekend), Oyelowo most recently appeared in A Most Violent Year and Interstellar. He’s repped by CAA, Inphenate, Hamilton Hodell and Schreck Rose.
Since winning her Oscar for her breakout role in 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o has booked work on one of the most hotly sought after projects in Hollywood: Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens. She’ll also voice a character in Disney’s The Jungle Book. She’s repped by CAA, D2 Management and Del, Shaw.
Nair’s previous films include 2009’s Amelia, 2004’s Vanity Fair and 2001’s Monsoon Wedding. She is repped by ICM Partners.
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Melvin Van Peebles