Danai Gurira, the actress and playwright-producer who plays Michonne in The Walking Dead and Wakandan warrior Okoye in Marvel Studios' Black Panther and Avengers franchises, has inked a two-year overall deal with Disney-owned ABC Studios, Deadline reports. For ABC Studios — behind Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — the Tony Award-nominated playwright will develop, write and produce for the studio across all platforms. The announcement comes just weeks ahead of Gurira's exit from The Walking Dead after eight seasons; Gurira joined as the katana-wielding zombie slayer in the zombie drama's third season in 2012.
"From Zimbabwe to Wakanda to Broadway, there is no one like Danai Gurira," said ABC Studios president Jonnie Davis. The scope of her talents and the breadth of her abilities are simply astonishing. We are over the moon that she has chosen to make ABC Studios her exclusive home."
The pact is the latest big move for Gurira, who in September lined up her first showrunning duties when she signed on for Americanah, a 10-episode limited series set to stream on HBO Max. In addition to serving as writer-showrunner, Gurira will executive produce alongside her Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong'o, who also stars in the series. Americanah is based on the bestselling novel from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
"I am thrilled to work with Jonnie and his stellar team at ABC studios," Gurira said. "Their commitment to the feminine perspective aligns with my goals as a storyteller. I am excited to amplify unheard voices and bring to light narratives that will tackle universal themes while they simultaneously break barriers and bring new faces, voices and influences to the screen."
It remains to be seen how this two-year deal might impact Gurira's future with The Walking Dead Universe, if at all, should Michonne survive her upcoming exit episode, suspected to be Season 10 Episode 12, "What We Become."
Speculation has pointed to Michonne being written out instead of killed off; if she survives, Michonne would then likely rejoin missing lover Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in the planned feature film trilogy. In January, TWD chief content officer Scott Gimple said the first film does not yet have a director attached and a production start has not been disclosed.
While the in-demand Gurira has a busy schedule — beyond Americanah and the two-year ABC deal, the star is poised for a return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe when she reprises her Okoye role in Black Panther 2, which has not yet begun filming for a May 2022 release date — it remains possible for Michonne to resurface sometime during the course of the Walking Dead movie trilogy, even if the "Richonne" reunion hoped for by fans doesn't happen in the franchise's first movie.
"The beauty is that TWD Family is forever and I came in in 2012 and felt this energy and this connection never ends. It's not connected to the decision I made," Gurira said when confirming her Walking Dead exit during last summer's San Diego Comic-Con. "It was about my calling and other things I feel called to and the opportunities I've had through the other things I do as a creator of work."
New episodes of TWD Season 10 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.0comments