Madonna to direct biopic of ballerina

Movie based Michaela DePrince memoir

(CNN) - Madonna is stepping behind the camera for a project she's passionate about.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures (MGM) announced Tuesday that the pop icon will direct "Taking Flight," a biopic based on Michaela DePrince's memoir "Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina."

The book, written with her adopted mother Elaine, tells the story of how DePrince went from being an orphan in war-torn Sierra Leone to a celebrated ballerina.

DePrince was featured in the 2012 ballet documentary "First Position" and in 2016 she danced in Beyoncé's "Lemonade" visual album, an appearance that helped her gain even more attention.

The ballerina told "Entertainment Tonight" back then that she improvised and choreographed her dance to Beyoncé's song "Freedom" on the spot.

"I needed three takes," DePrince said. "When I saw the final 'Lemonade' video, it was fun to see my name on the credits for choreography."

The story of the young woman who is now a soloist at the Dutch National Ballet touched another superstar.

"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."

The singer has adopted four children from Malawi, a country where she co-founded the nonprofit Raising Malawi in 2006 to provide health services for Malawian orphans and children.

Madonna made her directorial debut in 2008 with the comedy "Filth and Wisdom" and in 2011 co-wrote and directed the drama "W.E."

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