Madonna to direct film on Sierra Leone dancer

Pop superstar Madonna said the story of Michaela DePrince -- a war orphan from Sierra Leone --

Pop superstar Madonna said the story of Michaela DePrince — a war orphan from Sierra Leone — “resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist”. By Jason Merritt (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File)

Pop superstar Madonna on Tuesday announced 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 said in a statement.

“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.”

Ballerina Michaela DePrince -- who was abandoned by her uncle during the civil war in Sierra Leone and was later adopted by an American family -- pictured teaching a class in New York City Ballerina Michaela DePrince — who was abandoned by her uncle during the civil war in Sierra Leone and was later adopted by an American family — pictured teaching a class in New York City

DePrince’s story earlier was made into a documentary, “First Position.” She also appeared in “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s 2016 intertwined film and album that delves into the experience of African American women.

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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.

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