Disney actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa dies of cancer at 15

Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Nikita Pearl Waligwa, the young actress who starred in Disney's "Queen of Katwe," has died at the age of 15, according to the Ugandan school where she attended.

Waligwa died of a brain tumor, Gayaza High School announced in a statement on Twitter Sunday.


"Fare thee well, Nikita Pearl Waliwa. You were a darling to many and we have lost you to brain tumor at such a tender age," the school said. "... Rest in Perfect Peace, dear."

In the 2016 feature film directed by Mira Nair about the true-life story of chess prodigy Phiona Mutsei, Waliwa earned her only film credit staring as the protagonist's friend, Gloria.

The film also starred Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o as Phiona's mother.

Nyong'o confirmed Waligwa's death on Instagram.

"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 said in a statement.

Nyong'o said Waligwa played the role with vibrancy but in real life she had an "enormous challenge" of battling brain cancer.

"May she truly rest in [peace]," Nyong'o said. "May it be well with her soul."

David Oyelowo, who also starred in the film, said Waligwa was "a ball of light" not only in her role as Gloria but in life.

"Her battle with a brain tumor was humbling to witness," he said in a statement. "Her light will live on."

Notable deaths of 2020

Richard Thornburgh
Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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