Pop superstar Madonna announced yesterday that she will direct a biopic about Michaela DePrince, a war orphan from Sierra Leone who overcame overwhelming odds to become a successful ballerina.
Taking Flight, taken from the name of DePrince’s 2014 autobiography, will be the musical icon’s third time as a feature film director after Filth and Wisdom in 2008 and W.E. in 2011.
DePrince, abandoned by her uncle during the West African nation’s brutal civil war, was neglected in an orphanage as she suffered from the skin disorder vitiligo.
After being adopted by an American family, she rose to become a ballerina in the United States, South Africa and The Netherlands, where the 23-year-old is now a soloist in the Dutch National Ballet.
“Michaela’s journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity,” Madonna says.
“We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside. I am honoured to bring her story to life.”
DePrince’s story earlier was made into a documentary, First Position. She also appeared in Lemonade, Beyoncé’s 2016 intertwined film and album that delves into the experience of African American women.
Camilla Blackett, who has written for sitcoms Fresh Off the Boat and New Girl, will adapt a screenplay for the film, which will be released by studio MGM.
The plight of orphans is dear to the heart of Madonna who has adopted four children from Malawi.
In 2008, she narrated and produced I Am Because We Are, a documentary about Malawi’s orphans who lost their parents to Aids.