Karim Shamsie | CNN
Kenyan actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa, best known for her role in Disney’s adaptation of “Queen of Katwe,” has died, the director of the Disney film says.
“She will be dearly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time,” Indian director Mira Nair said Friday, according to CNN affiliate KABC. The actress played the film’s female lead, Phiona Mutesi.
Waligwa’s death was confirmed by her mother, who said she was struck by a bus at the age of 15.
“No big deal. It was a humble teenager’s way of saying goodbye to us,” her mother, Kenia Nyawira, told CNN.
Mutesi was a middle-school girl whose rise to prominence was portrayed in the 2013 film, which also starred David Oyelowo as the inspired coach who gave her a chance at football.
After developing her skills, Phiona has used her success to focus on empowering other young people.
While Waligwa left the film for personal reasons, the amount of success Phiona’s story has garnered is inspiring, Nyawira said.
“The story has inspired a lot of people to turn out to school, to come out of poverty,” she said.