Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
Queen of Katwe looking good. Opening in only 52 theaters, Disney’s inspirational chess drama scored an $305,000 for a per-screen average of $5,865. The film opens wide next Friday (9/30).
Synopsis: Queen of Katwe is based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi and her family, life in the impoverished slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet is fiercely determined to take care of her family and works tirelessly selling vegetables in the market to make sure her children are fed and have a roof over their heads. When Phiona meets Robert Katende, a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children chess, she is captivated. Chess requires a good deal of concentration, strategic thinking and risk taking, all skills which are applicable in everyday life, and Katende hopes to empower youth with the game. Recognizing Phiona s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she s inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her. As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling. Her mother, Harriet eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family. Cast Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Madina Nalwanga Rating: PG
8 Questions for Actress/Author Pamela Capone (author of I Punched Myself in the Eye: Stories of Self-Sabotage, Imperfection and Perfect, Amazing Grace)
4. Explain to us your journey from an orphaned 18-month old to how God has healed your heart today.
Even though I was incredibly blessed by being raised and loved by my foster family, I really struggled with insecurity as a child and into early adulthood. I was surrounded by love, but I carried a heavy weight. Up until that time I really struggled with shame I felt connected to my biological parents. 28 was a major turning point for me. I was exhausted by the effort of to trying to make myself lovable, acceptable. After a series of miracles (not that dissimilar from the types of epiphanies in unexpected places I describe in my current book), God gave me a healing of my heart. Basically, he just kept saying I love you over and over and over. After that point, I lived differently. Stopped trying to work a much for approval, and was for the first time, able to accept that I was loved regardless of my biological heritage. That was a life-changing time for sure.
I had finally accepted that I was loved simply because I was created by God, but I still had another big spiritual transition a few years after that when I finally understood that it wasn’t what I did to get a ticket to heaven, but what Christ did. That’s when I was able to let go of trying to work to get into heaven. It was a one-two punch of getting that I was loved, and then getting how salvation works.
5. In the book you mention being placed in the foster care system at 18-months old. What was that experience like, how did that shape the woman you are today?
I think that I am by nature an empath. So I think even if I hadn’t had that experience, my guess is that I would have still been a pretty sensitive person—But because of that experience of being the recipient of such grace—the demonstration of compassion by my foster parents who took me in on the spur of the moment when they found I needed a home—that inspires me to help others. Because of what happened to me—the gift of a home and a family—being shown such love, I feel the burden and blessing of wanting to help where I can. I consider my parents “swoopers.” They swooped in to save me, and I try and be a swooper. Their spontaneous decision to take me in as their own still boggles my mind and makes my heart burst.
John W. Kennedy is a writer/development consultant specializing in teleplays, screenplays and novelizations. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11