The life story of Somali-borm model Waris Dirie is finally coming to the big screen. I first heard the 5’9 beauty tell her story of female genital mutilation on the Oprah Winfrey Show some years ago. Since then Waris has written a book and traveled the world in hopes of bringing attention to what was done to her and continues to be done to millions of African girls in the name of purity.
“Desert Flower” will be released in the U.S. in March of 2011 and stars Ethiopian model Liya Kebede in the lead role. Kebede, 32, grew up in Ethiopia and was discovered by a filmmaker at the French lycée in Addis Ababa. In a recent interview, she was quick to draw a distinction between her own life story and Dirie’s. “On the surface we have parallels,” she said, before explaining how different life seemed in Djibouti, a neighboring country to Somalia, where parts of the film were shot. “This is where she came from. There’s nothing there, there’s no water, there’s nothing. And being in that environment was a new thing for me, and then trying to understand how you go from that to become this incredible woman — [Dirie] was never really a victim of her circumstances.”