'Queen of Katwe' actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa dies at 15 of a brain tumor

The Ugandan teen played chess whiz Gloria in the 2016 movie.

February 16, 2020, 3:39 PM

A Ugandan teen who graced the silver screen as a chess whiz died this weekend from a brain tumor, according to her school.

Nikita Pearl Waligwa, 15, had been attending Gayaza High School in Kampala while she had cancer. The school tweeted a heartfelt announcement on her passing late Saturday night.

"You were a darling to many and we have lost you to [a] brain tumor at such a tender age," the school tweeted. "Rest in Perfect Peace dear."

Waligwa starred in the 2016 Disney film "Queen of Katwe," a biographical film about Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi, who came from the slums to be one of the top players in the world. Waligwa played Gloria, Mutesi's friend and fellow chess player who says in chess, "the small one can become the big one."

PHOTO: Nikita Pearl Waligwa appears in a scene in Disney's "Queen of Katwe."
Nikita Pearl Waligwa appears in a scene in Disney's "Queen of Katwe."

The movie was a hit among Ugandan audiences who saw local actors on the same screen as Hollywood stars like Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo.

Oyelowo shared his condolences on Instagram Sunday.

"She was a ball of light in @queenofkatwemovie and in life," he wrote.

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