photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/AP

While I have been to a few red carpet events, the premiere of Disney’s Queen of Katwe (in theaters Sept 30th) was an exceptional experience, full of excitement from the stars and creators of the film. The premiere was at El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, California.

photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/AP

Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo lead the cast of Queen of Katwe, the story Phiona Mutesi (played by newcomer Madina Nalwanga) and her life-changing decision to learn chess, which brings her from the slums of Uganda to competing in Russia and ultimately helping her family thrive. The film also costars Martin Kabanza as Phiona’s brother Mugabi Brian, also a chess player. Nyong’o plays Harriet, the strong-willed mother of the two and Oyelowo portrays Robert Katande, the football player-turned- missionary who teaches the children the game as an outlet from the poverty stricken Katwe.

What I wore…


My dress was a white/blue/green floral fit & flare by Eliza J (Nordstrom), shoes were strappy nude wedge heels from Chinese Laundry. I didn’t need a bag – my dress had pockets! Accessories were minimal – rings from Jeulia, bracelet from my friend Amy, and of course my tattoos šŸ™‚

Madina Nalwanga and Martin Kabanza arrive on the red carpet (photo:

As I walked down the red carpet I could see the stars – Lupita & David being interviewed by the press, Madina and Martin beaming as they were stopped by reporters to answer questions about their film. Along with the actors were the real Robert Katande and his family along with Phiona Mutesi herself, now 20 years old.

Debra ( Amanda (, Kas (, Marshall (Disney)
Debra ( Amanda (, Kas (, Marshall (Disney)

We arrived at our seats as the movie was about to start. The cast and creators also took their seats a few rows behind. The movie on a huge screen is astonishing beautiful. More about that later…

Ugandan dress worn by Lupita Nyong'o on display in the lobby of El Capitan Theater.
Ugandan dress worn by Lupita Nyong’o on display in the lobby of El Capitan Theater.

The after-party was held at Hard Rock Cafe, directly across the street from El Capitan. The evening was filled with good food, dancing, and some celeb spotting. While there I spied some Disney XD stars like Bunk’d stars Skai Jackson and Nathan Arenas (who I had the pleasure of meeting last year as well), along with The Mindy Project’s Garret Dillahunt, who also worked alongside Lupita in 12 Years a Slave.


I ran into Robert Katande, the real life coach to Phiona in Uganda. One of the lines in the film was “sometimes the place you’re used to is not the place you belong”, so I asked him if he felt like he was where he belongs now. His answer?


Not yet. He still has more work to do in Uganda educating and leading children.

One of the best things? Seeing Madina, Martin, and even Lupita dancing in the middle of the restaurant. It is so hard to describe the excitement in the room, like the one who were involved in the making of Queen of Katwe were so incredibly proud of what they had done, as well they should be.

Queen of Katwe is in theaters everywhere September 30th and is a must see for everyone!


Disclosure: I was invited to attend the event with travel provided, all opinions are my own.