Tag Archives: Lupita Nyong’o

“Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Season 4” Goes Out on Many Limbs with Many Noted Fans of the Show  

The PBS series Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Season 4  continues to branch out. Today’s leading artists, politicians, activists, performers and journalists discover surprising ancestral stories while learning their family history in the fourth season of the critically acclaimed series. Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, continues exploring the mysteries, surprises and revelations hidden in the family trees of 28 of today’s most intriguing cultural trailblazers.

Comedian Larry David and politician Bernie Sanders discover they have more in common than they thought, tracing their roots back to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Comedic performers Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari and Maya Rudolph learn contrasting stories of assimilation and independence all over the globe. Actors Fred Armisen and Christopher Walken and musician Carly Simon each learn about a grandparent whose real identity and background had been a mystery to them. Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and author and activist Janet Mock see their basic assumptions about their families challenged, placing their ancestors—of all colors—into the greater context of black history.

Actors Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and William H. Macy trace their nonconformist ancestors through American conflicts—the Civil War and the American Revolution, all the way back to the Puritan establishment. Journalists Bryant Gumbel and Suzanne Malveaux and producer and writer Tonya Lewis-Lee discover a tapestry of the unexpected as they delve into their ancestry, revealing slaves and free people of color, Civil War legacies, and forgotten European origins. Actor Lupita Nyong’o, NBA star Carmelo Anthony and political commentator Ana Navarro trace their African heritage, investigating the political choices of their fathers and discovering sometimes unexpected heritage.

Also, actors Tea Leoni and Gaby Hoffmann both have lives shaped by family mysteries and are introduced to the identities and life stories of their biological ancestors, thanks to DNA detective work. DJ and producer Questlove, talk show host Dr. Phil, and journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s family stories are rooted in the American south. Actors Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd and John Turturro, all with immigrant parents, gain greater understanding of the unique challenges their ancestors faced by way of prejudice and poverty at home and abroad.

“Queen of Katwe” is inspiring, “the triumph of the human spirit’

Checkmate! You will cheer for Disney’s Queen of Katwe, the inspirational journey of a young girl from the streets of Uganda to world-class chess player, which has earned widespread critical acclaim, including a 93% Certified Fresh critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes.

The triumphant film, which is based on a true story based on Tim Crothers’ book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster (expanded from an ESPN the Magazine article), arrives home on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on January 10 and on Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand on January 31.

 Queen of Katwe is based on the true story of Phiona, a young girl (portrayed by Madina Nalwanga) from the streets of Uganda whose world changes when she is introduced to the game of chess. It doesn’t take long for her fall in love with the game. Recognizing her natural aptitude for chess, a man named Robert (David Oyelowo), starts mentoring the pre-teen. Initially, Phiona’s mother, Harriet Mutesi (played by Lupita Nyongo’o), is hesitant to encourage her, as she fears that her daughter will be disappointed.

As Phiona continues to succeed in local chess competitions, Robert teaches her to read and write. Harriet eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and helps Phiona fulfill her potential and escape a life of poverty. As a result of the support she receives from her family and community, she becomes an international chess champion. It is a remarkable story of perseverance against all odds that will leave viewers feeling humbled and inspired.

Says director Mira Nair, “The triumph of the human spirit is not to weep for what we don’t have but to focus on what we do have and allow that to take us to a place we never imagined possible.”

The drama was filmed entirely on location in South Africa and Uganda. Adds Nyong’o : “It was so great to go back home. I’m from East Africa. I’m from Kenya, which is just next door to Uganda. This is a story about the commitment to a dream even in the most discouraging of situations. The slum of Katwe is a very difficult place to live, but you see these people living there with dignity and making it day by day. And so to go there and to have that environment to work from really did sober us and enliven us.”

The release of Queen of Katwe takes viewers behind-the-scenes with filmmakers, as well as the cast and their real-life counterparts, through extensive bonus features, including a three-part documentary highlighting the amazing personal stories behind the film; audio commentary by director Mira Nair; a short film by Nair depicting the life of Robert Katende; in-studio access to 15-time Grammy-winning recording artist Alicia Keys during the creation of her new original song “Back to Life;” and deleted scenes.