Disney’s Queen of Katwe Star Nikita Pearl Waligwa has died aged 15 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The actress also played Gloria in the film, together with Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o, about a chess prodigy in a Ugandan slum.
According to reports, Doctors first found a tumor in 2016, and after undergoing radiotherapy, she was told she was cancer-free a year later.
Just after Nikita’s initial diagnosis, her mother Rachel Asiimwe Waligwa was diagnosed with cancer and doctors said she only has two months to live. But she thankfully survived and beat the odds, describing this momentous event as a miracle.
The star’s family expressed their heartbreak when Nikita Pearl later developed another tumor.
Ugandan media reports she died at a hospital in Naalya, Kampala, last night.
The Mirror stated that after her initial diagnosis, Mira Nair, the film’s director, asked the public to help cover the cost of her treatment in India.
Gayaza High School, where Nikita Pearl was studying, shared their sadness on a tribute to Twitter. They wrote:
“Fare thee well Nikita Pearl Waligwa.”
“You were a darling to many and we have lost you to a brain tumor at such a tender age. Nikita was in S.3. Rest in Perfect Peace dear.”
Fans also posted on social media and share tributes to the star:
“Oh my, oh my. May God grant her eternal peace. She was my best actress in the movie.”
“Rest in peace Pearl Waligwa. You’re in a better place. You will be remembered for the great work you did in Queen of Katwe.”
Fawole John Oyeyemi wrote:
“Sad news coming from Uganda about 15-year-old Nikita Pearl who just died of brain cancer. Nikita, known as Gloria in her role in Queen of Katwe.”
“My favorite part of the movie was when she shouted in the tournament playing hall, “He took my Queen” May her soul find rest.”
DJ DenzelUG wrote:
“Without a doubt, news on the passing of someone is sad.”
“It is especially sad when that someone is a 15yr old with so much potential. Rest in Peace Nikita Pearl Waligwa aka Gloria.”
In the 2016 biographical film, Phiona Mutesi is exposed to chess through charity worker Robert Katende, played by British actor David Oyelowo, who encourages Katwe uneducated children to play the strategy game, which will teach you inherent survival instincts learned in the slums.
The young girl often doubts her abilities, but her coach keeps guiding her to become the person she has today.
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