Nikita Pearl Waligwa, Disney Movie Star, Dies at 15

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Nikita Pearl Waligwa, a rising star in Hollywood best known for her role in the 2016 Disney film Queen of Katwe, died on Sunday.

She was 15 years old.

Nikita Pearl

Waligwa was initially diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016, as her those who worked with her on this movie mobilized to get her treatment in India. 

She made a recovery in 2017, but the tumor returned last year.

Not many details are available at this time, and we wish to respect Waligwa's privacy, but the actress' high school took to Twitter this morning to share their condolences and heartbreak over the news of her passing.

"Fare thee well Nikita Pearl Waligwa," the Gayaza High School wrote.

"You were a darling to many and we have lost you to brain tumor at such a tender age. Nikita was in S.3. Rest in Perfect Peace dear."


Queen of Katwe was a biographical film that was inspired by the true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), which chronicled the chess prodigy... who rose from the Ugandan slum and went on to compete in international tournaments

It starred Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as her mother and David Oyelowo as her chess teacher. 

Waligwa portrayed Gloria in the movie, a friend of Phiona who explained the rules of chess to her.

chess pic

On Sunday, David took to Instagram to pay tribute to the late young star.

"We mourn the loss of our beautiful Nikita Pearl Waligwa. She was a ball of light in @queenofkatwemovie and in life," the veteran actor wrote, adding:

"Her battle with a brain tumor was humbling to witness."

He closed his post as follows:

"Her light will live on."

Nikita Pearl Waligwa

The post, as you can above, also included a photo of Waligwa in character, holding up two chess pieces.

A quote from her character was also in the image, reading:

"In chess, the small one can become the big one."

May Nikita Pearl Waligwa rest in peace.


Nyong’o has now paid tribute to Waligwa on social media, writing:

It is with great sadness that I post about the passing of Nikita Waligwa, the sweet, warm, talented girl whom I worked with on the film, Queen Of Katwe. She played Gloria with such vibrancy. In her real life she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family and community as they come to terms with having to say goodbye so soon.

May she truly rest in piece. May it be well with her soul.

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