'Queen of Katwe' teen actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa dies of brain tumor at Age 15 - Woke America

Nikita Pearl Waligwa, the 15-year-old star from Uganda who was featured in Disney's Queen of Katwe movie alongside Lupita Nyong' o, has died after a brain tumor diagnosis, according to local media. 

The movie centered on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a chess prodigy, who learned the game at age nine and went on to compete in international competitions. Waligwa starred as the main character's best friend.

After news spread of Waligwa's death, Nyong' o took to Instagram to pay tribute to the late star:

"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," Nyong' o wrote on Instagram. 

"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."

According to the BBC, Waligwa was first diagnosed with a tumor in 2016. Director Mira Nair had organized funds to treat Waligwa, and she was recovering in 2017 until another tumor was detected in her last year.

Waligwa's funeral service was held at St Paul's Cathedral Namirembe on Sunday. The service was attended by friends, family, and teachers and colleagues from Kampala Junior Academy and Gayaza High School per the Daily Monitor.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Maligwa's family and loved ones at this difficult time.

Read Nyong'o's full Instagram tribute below.