Black Panther stars Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o will next team on Americanah, a 10-episode limited series headed to coming streaming service HBO Max (via EW). Gurira and Nyong’o will act as executive producers with Gurira serving as writer and showrunner.
“Through Americanah, Chimamanda brought the African female voice into mainstream consciousness in an unprecedented way,” Gurira said in a statement of the bestselling novel from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “It is intellectually incisive, indicting, yet full of humor, and riddled with humanity. She makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific. I am honored to bring her incredible novel to life on the screen. I’m thrilled to collaborate once again with Lupita who brings her astounding ability as a performer and producer shepherding this project, along with HBO Max’s unbridled enthusiasm to bring this groundbreaking narrative to the TV audience.”
“Americanah has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013. It’s a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless,” added Academy Award winner Nyong’o, attached to the project since 2014. “HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of Americanah.”
Nyong’o plays Ifemelu, described by the network as “a young, beautiful, self-assured woman raised in Nigeria, who as a teenager falls in love with her classmate Obinze.” Per the book’s synopsis, the young lovers depart military-ruled Nigeria for America, where despite her academic success, Ifemelu is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet and thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion — for each other and for their homeland.
An accomplished playwright, Americanah marks Gurira’s first effort as showrunner. She previously re-teamed with another Black Panther co-star, Letitia Wright, who led Gurira-penned stage play The Convert.
Gurira will end her tenure as katana-wielding zombie slayer Michonne in the tenth season of The Walking Dead, where Gurira has starred since 2012. When announcing her departure from the series at San Diego Comic-Con in July, Gurira said she felt “called” to other work.
“It was a very difficult one, and it’s not connected to my heart. My heart stays right here,” Gurira said of her decision to leave the show. “But it was about my calling, in a sense, and other things I feel called to. And the opportunities I’ve had, wanting to explore them for others through the other thing I do as a creator of work. So all I’m filled with is a lot of pain about leaving, and a lot of gratitude, and thanks to all of you, I love you guys, I love this show. TWD Family is forever. Forever.”
It’s not yet known if Nyong’o will return as Nakia in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther II, now in development for a May 2022 release under returning Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. Gurira previously confirmed her return as fierce Dora Milaje General Okoye during Comic-Con.