Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 'Queen of Katwe' Star, Dead at 15
By Jennifer Drysdale
Rest in peace, Nikita Pearl Waligwa.
The young actress, who starred in Disney's Queen of Katwe, has died, according to multiple reports. Ugandan media reports Waligwa had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. She was 15.
Waligwa was first diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016, and her Queen of Katwe family, including director Mira Nair, reportedly mobilized to get her treatment in India. She made a recovery in 2017, but the tumor reportedly returned last year.
The actress played Gloria in Queen of Katwe, which told the true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a chess prodigy rising from a Ugandan slum, going on to compete in international tournaments. Gloria was a friend of Phiona's, who explained the rules of chess to her. Lupita Nyong'o also starred in the 2016 Disney movie as Phiona's mother, while David Oyelowo starred as her chess teacher.
Oyelowo remembered Waligwa on his Instagram on Sunday, writing, "We mourn the loss of our beautiful Nikita Pearl Waligwa. She was a ball of light in @queenofkatwemovie and in life. Her battle with a brain tumor was humbling to witness. Her light will live on. ?#rip."