Disclaimer: Disney and ABC invited me to Los Angeles on an all-expenses paid trip, in exchange for my coverage of these events, which included Disney’s Queen of Katwe red carpet premiere and more. As always, all opinions are my own.
It would be a night to remember.
The Queen of Katwe red carpet premiere happened just 3 days ago and my heart is still filled with excitement.
When I think back to all those times I’d watched a red carpet from the comfort of my couch, I never could have imagined I’d soon be walking them, not once, but many times. The excitement never fades as each one is so very different and full of unexpected moments: Finding Dory red carpet, Inside Out red carpet and Cinderella red carpet!
Trust me when I say there’s nothing quite like being at a Hollywood premiere, even if you aren’t a movie star. 🙂
It was a Tuesday night, but not any ordinary Tuesday night. I was in Hollywood, California, having spent the late morning and early afternoon interviewing the Director, Cast and real-life inspirations of the film Queen of Katwe.
Once the interviews were over, the 25 of us bloggers headed back to our hotel to get ready for the big night. Side note: Academy award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o headed straight from our interview to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Ah, that brought back memories from my interview and DANCE I’d had with Ellen during the Finding Dory press junket.
Getting ready for a red carpet is exhilarating. And the prep starts way before you arrive in Hollywood. There’s the dress. The shoes (which must be comfortable as you’ll be on your feet all night long). The accessories. The hair and makeup. Though you aren’t the one the cameras are all focused on, chances are you’ll end up on television, video, and plenty of photographs. It’s true…you’ll see down below that I was captured in one of the official photos from the after party at the Hard Rock Cafe.
You can imagine what it was like for all 25 of us bloggers as we gathered in the hotel. Funny thing is, I wasn’t the only one asking a fellow blogger to finish zipping me up in the elevator (the hazard of traveling solo).
The dress reveal!
My dress ended up matching the red carpet, a much deeper and richer shade of red. I had wondered what the carpet would be like as I’ve walked them when they were blue and purple too! I even thought it might be checkered like a chess board due to the theme of the movie.
All dressed in our finest, we headed to Hollywood Boulevard where we had our picture taken on the infamous Oscar staircase.
Then it was across the street to the El Capitan Theatre, where the premiere would be held. But it was outside where all the attention was. In fact, the stars of the film and celebrities had already started to arrive by the time we got there.
Police shut down a portion of Hollywood Boulevard during the premieres, and this one was no exception. The public can watch from different vantage points, but it is only the press who you’ll find this close, just behind the gates.
Lights. Cameras. Action.
Celebrities and VIPs walked the red carpet in a larger area, while we walked behind them closer to the branded wall. That’s why you’ll find so many of us in the official pictures. Each outlet (television, etc) and all the paparazzi are waiting to get photos and quick interviews from everyone.
Here you see Madina Nalwanga walking the red carpet, with me right behind her. She was simply stunning in orange and blue. All eyes were on Madina, a newcomer who plays the role of Phiona Mutesi, “a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.”.
The photo above looks a little misleading. It seems that there aren’t many people on the red carpet. Ah, but let me show you a picture I took from a different angle.
See what I mean?
The red carpet is always loud. So many people chatting about this and that. Celebrities and old friends greeting each other. Interviews happening. The clicks of a hundred cameras being heard.
It is something to experience.
As I walked the red carpet, I saw much of the cast, including Lupita Nyong’o, who plays the young mother in the film and Martin Kabanza, who like Madina Nalwanga, was new to acting and from Uganda.
Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo were simply stunning.
Here you see the cast posing with real-life inspirations Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi. I can only imagine how they felt, standing there under the Hollywood lights. I had the chance to sit down with them earlier that day and I’ll be bringing you that exclusive interview soon.
It was time to head inside the El Capitan Theatre to experience the movie. For me, it would be the second time, as I had watched the movie over at Walt Disney Studios the night before. I knew what was coming, the beauty of the film, and I couldn’t wait to see it again.
There’s something about watching a film knowing that the actors and director are sitting just a few rows behind you. I was in the 2nd row. As the movie ended, I turned around to see pure joy on the faces of those who had worked so hard to bring this to life.
Many times the El Capitan Theatre showcases costumes from the film during a movie premiere, and they did so again this night. Here was an actual costume worn by Lupita Nyong’o in Queen of Katwe.
Fun Fact: I walked out of the theatre with Director Mira Nair and she was excitedly taking photos of this costume with her phone just like I was. 🙂
Next up, the after-party!
Location: Across the street at the Hard Rock Cafe Los Angeles on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood. What a venue for a premiere!
While taking my little stroll, guess who I ran into? Josh Peck! You might recognize him from the Nickelodeon hit, Drake and Josh, co-starring with John Stamos in Grandfathered, and the voice of Eddie in the Ice Age animated movies!
This backdrop greeted us at the entrance.
The food tempted us. Yes, those are Cookies n Cream Cheesecake Mini Shooters.
The after-party would be different from all the others I’d attended.
All the others were held outside in a roped off section of the red carpet. There was mingling among celebrities under the stars. This was so different having it inside the Hard Rock Cafe. A different, more grown up vibe, though there were definitely children present, including many child actors and celebrities.
Who did I rub shoulders with at the after-party? Oh only, Garrett Clayton from Teen Beach/Teen Beach 2 (I was just steps away from getting a picture when he left the Hard Rock Cafe). Let me tell you that I would have been Mom of the Year had I gotten that picture. Then there was Jason George from Grey’s Anatomy, who was there with his family. And so many more!
But the highlight of the after-party…
Madina Nalwanga and Martin Kabanza, who play brother and sister in the film, started dancing.
It was infectious and definitely the best part of the entire evening. You see them here dancing with Disney’s Tendo Nagenda (who brought this true-life story to Disney). Of course, my friends and I couldn’t help ourselves – we started dancing too, while snapping photos and video. Multi-tasking at its best.
And then it happened. Lupita Nyong’o came out from behind the VIP section to join her “kids”. She danced. And smiled. And laughed. In fact, there I am just steps away enjoying the moment (and yes, capturing a photo). But that’s how I ended up in this official photo of the night.
What did we dance to? Many songs, but the best by far was from the movie, #1 Spice, by Young Cardamom & HAB! Available TODAY!
It was the perfect way to end the evening.
Now let’s take a look at Queen of Katwe, shall we? My complete movie review will be up Monday!
QUEEN OF KATWE opens in SELECT theaters TODAY and everywhere on September 30th.
YOU WILL ALSO LOVE:
If you like this post, you’ll love these that I’ve picked out just for you!