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15-Year-Old “Queen Of Katwe” Star Nikita Pearl Waligwa Dies Of Brain Tumor

By Stephanie Ogbogu

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According to reports, Nikita Pearl Waligwa, one of the stars of the 2016 Disney film “Queen of Katwe,” died Saturday after succumbing to a brain tumor. The Ugandan actress was only 15-years-old.

In “Queen of Katwe,” Waligwa played Gloria, the best friend of the main character who grew from the slums of Katwe in Uganda to become an international chess superstar. The film is based on the true story of  Phiona Mutesi, one of the first titled female players in Ugandan chess history. In the film, it was Gloria who explained the rules of chess to Phiona.

Actress Lupita Nyong’o, who also starred in “Queen of Katwe,” wrote a heartfelt message to the child star on Instagram, saying that she was a “sweet, warm, talented girl.”

Nikita Pearl Waligwa was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016. Film director Mira Nair helped raise funds to get the young actress treatment in India. In 2017, Waligwa was tumor-free, regrettably, another brain tumor was found last year.

Actor David Oyelowo, who starred as the chess teacher in the film, also paid tribute to Waligwa on Instagram.

Gayaza High School, the school Waligwa attended, shared a heartfelt message to the 15-year-old on Sunday.

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