Madonna will direct a film about the true story of Michaela DePrince, an orphan from Sierra Leone who went on to become a world-renowned ballerina.
DePrince was three years old when her father was shot and killed in the war torn African nation – her mother died just a week later from sickness and hunger. She was then sent to an orphanage and adopted by Americans – one of 9 children the family adopted – and encouraged to pursue ballet. At age 17 she made her debut in the Joburg Ballet in South Africa, before going on to appear in the documentary First Position, as well as Beyoncé’s Lemonade. She’s now a soloist at the Dutch National Ballet.
With her mother, DePrince wrote and published a memoir in 2014, titled Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. The Taking Flight film will be adapted by Camilla Blackett (The Newsroom) and will be Madonna’s third film in the director’s chair. She’s previously helmed the 2008 comedy Filth and Wisdom and the 2011 film W.E.
She’s also currently co-writing and will direct The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, from the novel of the same name, and produced and wrote the documentary about Malawi orphans, I Am Because We Are.
“Michaela’s journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity,” said Madonna in Deadline‘s report. “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 honored to bring her story to life.”