Lupita Nyong’o has turned in some powerful performances on screen — and she has an Oscar to prove it. Now Lupita’s back in a chess drama — but she’s looking to branch out a little. Deco grandmaster reporter Chris Van Vliet is here with their conversation.
This right here, the “Queen of Katwe” is your feel good movie of the year. Even if you know nothing about chess, like me — this is one of those movies that when it’s over, you feel like you can accomplish anything.
Life is fine for Phiona — living her day-to-day life in the slums of Uganda — but things change dramatically when she’s introduced to chess.
David Oyelowo stars as her coach and Lupita Nyong’o is her mother in this uplifting true story of a chess prodigy who shocked the world.
David Oyelowo (as Robert Katende): “You belong where you believe you belong. Where is that for you?”
Chris Van Vliet: “Your character has this great line in the film, ‘You belong where you believe you belong.’ When did you have that moment when you believed that this is where you belonged?”
David Oyelowo: “Wow, well in doing a film like this, I know that this is one of the places that I belong. Telling stories like this as a child of African decent myself, this is the kind of film I’ve been hoping to see for a long time.”
The film is an underdog story — Phiona’s kind of like the chess version of Rocky or Rudy.
Lupita Nyong’o: “I love it when they say the small one can become the big one, and that’s a metaphor from the chess board and that’s what Phiona does. She’s from this small place where nobody is expected to get anything much out of their lives, and she pursues her dreams.”
At just 10 years old, Phiona began to master the game of chess, giving her a way out of a life of poverty.
Chris Van Vliet: “The movie is about chasing dreams and going after it. Do you still have dreams? I mean, you’ve accomplished so much.”
Lupita Nyong’o: “I want to be in a comedy.”
Chris Van Vliet: “Really? Well now it’s out there, it’s going to happen.”
Lupita Nyong’o: “I’ve been saying this for a while, so I hope you’re the one who’s actually going to deliver it to the person that’s going to make it happen.”
Chris Van Vliet: “What is this snap in the movie?”
Lupita Nyong’o: “It’s a whip. It’s a whip.”
Lupita Nyong’o: “The sound is made from your index finger hitting against your middle finger and your thumb. So you put your middle finger and your thumb together, you keep this index finger loose and then you whip it. Yeah, it takes some work.”
Lupita Nyong’o: “So you kinda have to snap your wrist.”
Chris Van Vliet: “That’s a good noise.”
Lupita Nyong’o: “I’ve been doing this for years my friend!”
So my wrist hurts a lot from attempting that, both during the interview and every day since. I don’t know what’s worse, my chess playing skills or my whipping skills.
“Queen of Katwe” plays in theaters Sept. 30.
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