Based on the Oscar-winning ‘12 Years a Slave’ actress’ #1 New York Times bestselling children’s book of the same name, the film will tell a story about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.
Netflix and Lupita Nyong’o have teamed up on a new animated musical feature, Sulwe, based on the Oscar-winning actress’ #1 New York Times bestselling book of the same name. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison, the book tells the story of Sulwe, who has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone she knows. All she wants is to be beautiful and bright. One night, Sulwe is visited by a shooting star sent by the Night, and embarks on a magical journey where she learns the eye-opening story of the sisters Night and Day. Sulwe is a story about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.
Earlier this year, Nyong’o read Sulwe as part of Bookmarks - a live-action series that features prominent Black celebrities and artists reading children's books from Black authors that highlight the Black experience. The episode is available for streaming now via Netflix and the Netflix Jr. YouTube channel.
“The story of Sulwe is one that is very close to my heart,” Nyong’o shared. “Growing up, I was uncomfortable in my dark skin. I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in the aspirational pages of books and magazines, or even on TV. It was a long journey for me to arrive at self-love. Sulwe is a mirror for dark-skinned children to see themselves, a window for those who may not be familiar with colorism, to have understanding and empathy, and an invitation for all who feel different and unseen to recognize their innate beauty and value. I am thrilled that the book is being adapted into an animated musical that we hope inspires children all around the world to celebrate their uniqueness.”
The Kenyan actress, producer, and bestselling author made her feature debut in Steve McQueen’s Academy Award-winning film, 12 Years a Slave, for which she received an Oscar for her performance as Patsey – as well as multiple accolades including the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Critics’ Choice Award, the Independent Spirit Award, and the NAACP Award. In 2019, Nyong’o starred as dual characters, Adelaide and Red, in Jordan Peele’s Us, for which she received the Screen Actors Guild nomination, as well as NY Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.
Her upcoming projects include Universal's female-driven spy thriller, The 355, and Born a Crime, a biopic she will produce based on Trevor Noah’s New York Times best-selling book of the same name. She is also set to reprise her role as Nakia in the sequel to Marvel’s Black Panther.
Sulwe joins Netflix’s fast growing original slate of animated features which includes Sergio Pablos’ Academy Award-nominated Klaus, Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys, and Glen Keane’s Over the Moon. Features recently announced and in production include the upcoming comedy Back to the Outback, directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps; Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Adventure; Chris Williams’ The Sea Beast; Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild; Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon; Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio; Wendy Rogers’ The Magician’s Elephant; Minkyu Lee’s The Witch Boy; an Aardman Chicken Run sequel; and a Redwall film and event series.
Netflix has also just acquired worldwide rights, outside of China, for The Mitchells vs. The Machines, a new animated comedy from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, producers of the Oscar-winning animated feature, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The film, which up until recently had been renamed Connected, was originally slated for an October 23, 2020 release, which was then unset; with the new deal, reportedly worth more than $100 million, the feature will premiere later in 2021.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.