Nikita Pearl Waligwa, ‘Queen of Katwe’ Actor, Dies At 15

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“Queen of Katwe” actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa has died at age 15 of a brain tumor, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Waligwa’s boarding school in Uganda announced her death.

“You were a darling to many and we have lost you to a brain tumor at such a tender age,” Gayaza High School wrote on Twitter.

In the 2016 Disney movie, Waligwa played Gloria, whose friendship helps an impoverished chess prodigy (Madina Nalwanga) become a champion. The film was based on the life of Ugandan international competitor Phiona Mutesi.

Co-star Lupita Nyong’o praised Waligwa as a “sweet, warm, talented girl.”

“In her real life she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer,” Nyong’o wrote in a heart-wrenching Instagram post. “My thoughts and prayers are with her family and community as they come to terms with having to say goodbye so soon.”

The movie would be Waligwa’s only listed credit. The film moved critics, but performed modestly at the box office.

Waligwa learned she had a brain tumor in 2016. She “made a recovery in 2017,” Deadline reported, but the tumor returned in 2018.

Mira Nair, the movie’s director, said goodbye on Twitter early Monday. “The heart breaks to see you gone, too young, too soon,” she wrote.



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