March 13, 2018


Madonna to Direct 'Taking Flight' Biopic About Famed Sierra Leone Ballerina Michaela DePrince

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Madonna is ready to tap into her love for film once again, and this time around she's going to be telling an important story. The pop star will be directing a biopic named Taking Flight, which explores the journey of Michaela DePrince, Rolling Stone reports.

DePrince's tale is a remarkable one and possesses a great deal of inspiration. The 23-year-old was born in Sierra Leone in 1995 and grew up as an orphanage during the country's civil war. According to her adoptive parents, DePrince's father was killed by the Revolutionary United Front while her mother starved to death. She was able to escape the turmoil in 1999 when she was adopted by a family in New Jersey, getting the chance to begin a new life in America. DePrince is now a respected ballerina, making history as the youngest dancer in the history of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She is now a soloist for the Dutch National Ballet and is the only ballerina of African descent.

The ballerina also caught the attention of Beyoncé, appearing in the entertainer's "Hope" sequence for her 2016 Lemonade visual album. "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."

Taking Flight will be an adaptation of the 2016 memoir Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, which Michaela co-wrote with her adoptive mother Elaine DePrince. Camilla Blackett (Fresh Off the Boat, New Girl, The Newsroom) is behind the script. This marks the third time Madonna has directed a film, following 2008's Filth and Wisdom and 2011's W.E. 

Madonna has a strong affinity for Africa, producing and writing 2008's I Am Because We Are, her documentary about more than 1 million orphans in Malawi in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. Four of her six children are also adopted from the southeast African country. Below, take it back to 2009 when Lady Gaga discussed her co-sign from Madonna and being a self-described "artist of liberation":