Madonna will direct the upcoming film Taking Flight about Michaela DePrince, the Sierra Leonean ballet star who also appeared in Beyoncé’s Lemonade. The new film will be adapted by Camilla Blackett from the memoir Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.
“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.”
DePrince was born in Sierra Leone in 1995. Both her parents were killed in the country’s civil war, and her uncle took her to an orphanage. She was later adopted by a family in New Jersey. DePrince excelled in ballet and eventually joined the Dutch National Ballet, where she is now a soloist.
DePrince co-wrote her memoir with her adoptive mother in 2015. “It was a therapeutic outlet and a way for me to reach out to other people,” she told The Guardian. “… I always wanted to be a role model and to let people know that it’s OK to dream and to live for something.”
The same year, Beyoncé reached out to DePrince to enlist her to dance in Lemonade. “[Beyoncé] said I looked like I was a creature from another planet,” the dancer told the Wall Street Journal. “She walked up to me and said, ‘It’s such an honor to have you here.’ I was really cheesy and said, ‘The honor is mine.’ I was on cloud nine.”
Taking Flight marks Madonna’s third gig directing a feature film. In 2008, she helmed Filth and Wisdom. She also co-directed 2011’s W.E. In addition, she’s currently working on a big-screen adaptation of the novel The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.