The extraordinary life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta is coming to screens!
Grammy award winner and Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo, 33, will star as well as produce a film about Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a 19th century Egbado princess of the Yoruba people in West Africa who was orphaned during a war with the nearby Kingdom of Dahomey, was captured in 1848 at age 5 and became the slave of King Ghezo of Dahomey but was presented to the Queen of England as a gift in 1850.
The biopic developed by BBC Film, will be “a celebration of Sarah, a modern, strategic, determined heroine who found a way to embrace her Black-ness, her African-ness and to ultimately find love: forging a path for herself that honoured both her heritage and her upbringing.”
Benedict Cumberbatch is on board as executive producer, with Color Purple star Erivo and Solome Williams co-producing.
Erivo expressed excitement about the upcoming project:
Erivo said: “I am excited to embark on this journey. It has taken a long time to get to a point where we can even begin to realize this dream. As a Nigerian British woman, to get the opportunity to tell the story of another Nigerian British woman who until now has been erased from the history books, is an honor. Miss Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Omoba Aina, is truly a passion of mine and I’m so pleased to have been able to find partners in the incredible women, Leah Clarke and Rienkje Attoh, to tell the story and finally give her a voice. I cannot wait to dive into her story. She is indeed the forgotten princess, forgotten no more.”
SunnyMarch’s Leah Clarke said: “It is a real privilege to be working on Sarah’s story with this incredible team. Together we hope to bring audiences a bold, modern portrait of an extraordinary woman.”
Born Omoba Aina, an Egbado princess of the Yoruba people, she was “gifted” to Queen Victoria in 1850, taken to England and renamed Sarah Forbes Bonetta. Queen Victoria was impressed by the young princess’ exceptional intelligence, and had Sara raised as her goddaughter.
Recall in October her remarkable story was told by English Heritage, a charity that manages over 400 historical sites in England. In efforts towards highlighting forgotten Black stories and figures in British history, English Heritage unveiled a portrait of Bonetta, created by artist Hannah Uzor and based on a photograph of Bonetta in her wedding dress, which is housed in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
The painting was hung throughout October – Black History Month in Osborne House — Queen Victoria’s home — where Bonetta spent some time with the monarch before her death.