Disney’s QUEEN OF KATWE Actress Dies at 15 Due to a Brain Tumor
By Allyson Vannatta, Staff Writer
Nikita Pearl Waligwa, who was known for her role in the 2016 Disney movie QUEEN OF KATWE, died at the age of 15 due to a brain tumor.
The initial diagnosis of the tumor came in 2016, reported the Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor.
Mira Nair, director of QUEEN OF KATWE, reportedly tried to help fund treatments for the young starlet while in India.
In 2017, The Daily Monitor reported that Waligwa was tumor free, however another tumor was found last year.
She was attending Gayaza High School in Uganda at the time she died. In a statement, the high school said, “rest in perfect peace dear.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, QUEEN OF KATWE is based on the true story of a 9-year-old chess prodigy from a Ugandan Slum named Phiona Mutesi. Waligwa portrayed a character named Gloria, who taught Mutesi the rules of chess.
Her co-stars Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo both shared tributes on their Instagram accounts remembering Waligwa.
Part of Nyong’o’s caption read, “My thoughts and prayers are with her family and community as they come to terms with having to say goodbye so soon.”
View this post on Instagram
It is with great sadness that I post about the passing of Nikita Waligwa, the sweet, warm, talented girl whom I worked with on the film, Queen Of Katwe. She played Gloria with such vibrancy. In her real life she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and community as they come to terms with having to say goodbye so soon. May she truly rest in piece. May it be well with her soul.
Oyelowo’s read, “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 life will live on.”
Please pray that God wraps his arms around Waligwa’s family and comforts them in this time of devastating loss.
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