The Queen of Katwe Red Carpet Premiere and After Party

I know I get to do some of the most fun and interesting things ever. And I've walked Red Carpets before. (I know. Shut up.) I got the invitation from Disney to join them and 24 other bloggers to experience the Red Carpet for the Queen of Katwe Premiere.

I will be writing about the film in more detail next week, but right now, let me just tell you that it completely blew me away. I was not prepared for the way this story connected so deeply with my mom sensibilities. Deliciously directed by the fabulous Mira Nair, it's the story of a Ugandan girl whose world is completely and improbably changed by the game of chess.

Take a peek:

So, we arrive at the premiere, dressed to the nines and ready to celebrate. Hollywood Blvd. has been completely shut down in front of the iconic El Capitan Theatre. And there was that magnificent theatre marque all lit up and practically shouting out the excitement. 

(photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez - Getty Images)

(photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez - Getty Images)

What I Wore

When I received the invitation, my first thought was, "But what will I wear?" Because RED CARPET PREMIERE. My daughters, Amy and Lucy got involved right away. 

Should I wear the short dress? "No, mom. Red. Carpet." The consensus was reached for the most colorful long dress we could find and to throw my gold shrug over that. I added my simple, colorful Kenyan beads (thanks to Amy's African friends) and I was off. 

How did I do?

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Queen of Katwe Premiere

The Red Carpet

Imagine tons of beautifully dressed beautiful people in a gorgeous array of colors. In this case, ALL the colors as is befitting a story originating in Africa. It was truly breathtaking.

The Red Carpet for Queen of Katwe (photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez - 2016 Getty Images)

The Red Carpet for Queen of Katwe (photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez - 2016 Getty Images)

Full disclosure, I walked as s-l-owww-ly as I could. Taking photos and trying to spot the stars. Of course, there's that surreal moment when the film fans are lined up as you walk the carpet and they're all looking at us Disney bloggers and wondering, "Are they anyone famous?"  It's kind of hilarious. (The correct answer: Only in my own mind, thankyouverymuch.)

When the principals arrived there was such a buzz in the air. And can I just tell you that Lupita Nyong'o just took my breath away. Her presence is as commanding in person as it is on the big screen. And co-star, David Oyelowo is the definition of class and elegance. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Queen of Katwe Premiere
Lupita Nyong'o, Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo (photo: Alex J. Berliner - © ABImages)

Lupita Nyong'o, Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo (photo: Alex J. Berliner - © ABImages)

And everyone was having so much fun. As you can imagine, completing a project like this would be super exciting. This was their big night to celebrate along with the rest of the world. Premiere night is probably one big exciting-sigh-of-relief-let's-party.

The Premiere Itself

Once we all got inside the theater itself, the excitement was just electric. I had already seen the film, so I knew what to expect. But when you're in the dark watching the film with all the people who have worked so hard to bring it to the big screen, it's something completely different.

(© Disney. All rights reserved.)

(© Disney. All rights reserved.)

The screen went dark. As each name came up on the screen, there were loud cheers and clapping and woo-hooing. Because they were celebrating their project. We were there, privileged to be included in their night of celebration. 

The After Party

When the film concluded, we walked across Hollywood Blvd. to the Hard Rock Cafe for the after party. (As if the evening were not surreal enough already.)

(photo: Marta Darby)

(photo: Marta Darby)

And then the partying began in earnest. Usually, it's just people eating and mingling, as most parties in this area code tend to be. Everyone is looking supremely beautiful and having a wonderful time. 

But, as we found out earlier during our interviews with the cast, the young Madina Nalwanga (who plays chess champion, Phiona Mutesi in the film) was a dancer. She and her co-star, Martin Kabanza made a space and got the dancing started. 

Madina Nalwanga on the dance floor at the Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood. (photo: Alex J. Berliner - © ABImages)

Madina Nalwanga on the dance floor at the Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood. (photo: Alex J. Berliner - © ABImages)

Everyone jumped right in and had the time of their lives. We were right there on that dance floor moving to the beautiful and super fun African music. 

(If you look closely, way back, at the very center of the picture below, behind Martin's white shirt, you'll recognize this Cuban blogger and her brightly colored dress partying like a rockstar, but that's not important right now.)

Madina Nalwanga, Robert Katende, Tendo Nagenda (photo: Alex J. Berliner - © ABImages)

Madina Nalwanga, Robert Katende, Tendo Nagenda (photo: Alex J. Berliner - © ABImages)

There's a song that you hear in the film that is also featured at the end of the film, called "#1 Spice" by Young Cardamom & HAB. When they played it at the party, the crowd literally went nuts. 

That song! It makes you feel compelled to bounce in your seat. Imagine what it was like on the dance floor!  

Come on! Bounce with me...

You're welcome.

I'm still reeling from this magical night. And I'm super excited for everyone I know to see the Queen of Katwe. Please, please, please look in the listings in your area for where it's playing. 

Also, after this experience, I'm going to be impossible to live with. As we say in "good Cuban," Get the sandpaper! (Pa' darme lija!)

The Queen of Katwe will be in theaters everywhere on September 30th, 2016. Go see it!