Music icon Madonna will direct the biopic Taking Flight, based on the journey of ballerina Michaela DePrince from a childhood as an orphan in Sierra Leone to fame as a reputed dancer, reports said on Tuesday. MGM will produce the film adaptation of Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, written by 23-year-old Michaela and her mother, Elaine DePrince.
“DePrince’s father was shot and killed by rebels when she was 3 during Sierra Leone’s civil war and her mother died of fever and starvation a week later,” Deadline reported. “She also had three brothers who died young. Her uncle sent her to an orphanage, and she was eventually adopted by a U.S. family (the eighth of 11 children — nine adopted), who recognized her talents and encouraged her to pursue ballet.”
DePrince made her professional debut at the age of 17 in the Joburg Ballet in South Africa. She has featured in the 2012 documentary First Position, and appeared in Beyonce’s Lemonade. DePrince now works as a soloist at the Dutch National Ballet.
Madonna’s previous directorial credits include the British comedy Filth and Wisdom and the period drama W.E. She is also attached to an adaptation of Andrew Sean Greer’s novel The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.
“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.”