Danai Gurira at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con
|Born||Danai Jekesai Gurira
February 14, 1978
Grinnell, Iowa, United States
|Alma mater||Macalester College
Tisch School of the Arts
Gurira was born in Grinnell, Iowa to Josephine Gurira, a university librarian, and Roger Gurira, a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. Her parents came to the United States from Southern Rhodesia (what is today Zimbabwe) in 1964. She is the youngest of four siblings; Shingai (eldest) and Choni are her sisters and her brother Tare is a chiropractor. Gurira lived in Grinnell until December 1983, when at age five she and her family moved back to Harare, Zimbabwe after the country had gained independence.
She attended high school at Dominican Convent High School. Afterward, Gurira returned to the United States to study at Macalester College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. She considers her experience of growing up in Zimbabwe and then returning to the United States to have had a major influence on her perspective. Gurira also earned a Master of Fine Arts in acting from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
Gurira has said that she began writing plays because she felt a need for "something to perform that actually kind of speaks to my strengths and speaks to women I know of and stories I think are important to tell". She co-wrote and co-starred in the off-Broadway play In the Continuum, which won her an Obie Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Helen Hayes Award for Best Lead Actress. In December 2011, In the Continuum commemorated World AIDS Day 2011. The play, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe, was performed at Harare’s Theatre and featured the story of two women who were navigating the world after contracting the AIDS virus.
In 2009, Gurira debuted on Broadway in August Wilson's play Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Gurira received the Whiting Award in 2012. In January 2015, Familiar, a play written by Gurira and directed by Rebecca Taichman, opened at Yale Repertory Theatre. The play is about family, cultural identity, and the experience of life as a first-generation American, and Gurira has said that it was inspired in part by family and friends of hers.
In 2015, Lupita Nyong'o starred in Gurira's 2009 play, Eclipsed, at The Public Theater. It was announced the play would move to Broadway from Off-Broadway. The play is set in war-torn Liberia and focuses on three women who are living as sex slaves to a rebel commander, and is about how they deal with this difficult situation. The play was inspired by a photograph of female fighters and their tale of survival.
Gurira starred in the 2007 film The Visitor, for which she won Method Fest Independent Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has appeared in the films Ghost Town, 3 Backyards, My Soul to Take, and Restless City, as well the television shows Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Life on Mars, and Law & Order. From 2010 to 2011, she appeared in the HBO drama series Treme.
In 2013, Gurira played a lead role in director Andrew Dosunmu's independent drama film Mother of George, which premiered at 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Gurira received critical acclaim for her performance as a Nigerian woman struggling to live in the United States. In June 2013, Gurira won the Jean-Claude Gahd Dam award at the 2013 Guys Choice Awards.
The Walking Dead
In March 2012, AMC announced on a live broadcast that Gurira would join the cast of their horror-drama series The Walking Dead, the highest rated series in cable television history, in its third season. Gurira plays Michonne, a mistrustful, katana-wielding character who joins a close-knit group in an apocalyptic world. Together they are forced to relentlessly fight flesh-eating zombies and certain of the few surviving humans, some of whom are even more diabolical and dangerous than the zombies themselves. Gurira had to learn how to ride horses for the show, which she enjoyed because it was a physical challenge.
- 2008: Appeared at the Global Green Sustainable Design Awards to read a letter written by a New Orleans native displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
- 2011: Co-founded Almasi, an organization dedicated to continuing arts education in Zimbabwe.
- 2015: Gurira signed an open letter begun by the ONE Campaign. The letter was addressed to Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women as they serve as the head of the G7 in Germany and the AU in South Africa respectively.
Gurira is a Christian. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and speaks four languages: French, Shona, basic Xhosa, and English. She has taught playwriting and acting in Liberia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. She regularly spends time in New York City and maintains an active lifestyle to keep physically fit.
|2007||The Visitor||Zainab||Method Fest Film Festival for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Gotham Awards for Best Ensemble Cast
|2008||Ghost Town||Assorted ghost|
|2010||3 Backyards||Woman in Blue Dress|
|2010||My Soul to Take||Jeanne-Baptiste|
|2013||Mother of George||Adenike Olumide Balogun||Black Reel Award for Best Actress
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated - American Black Film Festival - Best Actress
|2015||Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast||Fury (voice)|
|2016||All Eyez on Me||Afeni Shakur||Filming|
|2004||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Marei Rosa Rumbidzai||Episode: "Inert Dwarf"|
|2009||Life on Mars (US)||Angela||Episode: "The Simple Secret of the Note in Us All"|
|2009||Law & Order||Courtney Owens||Episode: "Fed"|
|2010||American Experience||Sarah Steward||Episode: "Dolley Madison"|
|2010||Lie to Me||Michelle Russo||Episode: "Exposed"|
|2012–present||The Walking Dead||Michonne||Season 3-present (main role; 43 episodes)
Satellite Award for Best Cast – Television Series (2012)
Pending – NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2016)
|2005||In the Continuum||Abigail, et. al.||Also writer
Outer Critics Circle Award
Helen Hayes Award
John Gassner Award
|2009||Joe Turner's Come and Gone||Martha Pentecost|
|2011||Measure for Measure||Isabella|
Nominated – Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Writing
Works or publications
- Gurira, Danai. Running Head: The Neglect of Black Women in Psychology. 2001. Honors paper, Macalester College
- Gurira, Danai, and Nikkole Salter. In the continuum. New York, NY: Samuel French, 2008. ISBN 978-0-573-65089-5
- Gurira, Danai. Eclipsed. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2010. ISBN 978-0-822-22446-4
- Gurira, Danai. The Convert. Washington, DC : Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 2013.
- "College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science: Chemistry Faculty and Staff: Roger Gurira Roger Gurira, Lecturer". University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- Donloe, Darlene (18 April 2012). "The ‘Zamerican’ Danai Gurira Examines The Convert". LA Stage Times. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- McIntyre, Gina (6 November 2012). "Walking Dead: Danai Gurira Doubles as Michonne and a Playwright". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- Smiley, Tavis (10 October 2013). "Actress-playwright Danai Gurira" (Video interview; includes complete transcript). Tavis Smiley Show. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- Mims, Sergio (3 March 2012). "Danai Gurira: Actress and Playwright with Africa on Her Mind". Ebony. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- "Playscript: The Convert". American Theatre (Theatre Communications Group) 30 (7): 70–71. September 2013. ISSN 8750-3255. OCLC 10594175. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
The complete text of Danai Gurira's tumultuous journey into Zimbabwe's colonial history. Plus: a conversation with the playwright by Tim Sanford.
- "Danai Gurira - Playwriting Resume" (PDF). Danai Gurira. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- "Danai Gurira Teams Up With Rooftop". Zimbo Jam. 21 October 2011. Archived from the original on 13 September 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- Kachka, Boris (3 May 2009). "Into Africa: Danai Gurira". New York. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- "Danai Gurira: 2012 Winner in Drama". Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
- "In Yale Rep's world-premiere 'Familiar,' a family is thrown into flux". Yale News. Yale University. January 14, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
- "2014-2015 Season: Familiar". Yale Repertory Theatre. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Stasio, Marilyn (14 October 2015). "Off Broadway Review: Lupita Nyong’o in ‘Eclipsed,’ From ‘Walking Dead’s’ Danai Gurira". Variety. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- Jones, Nate (20 October 2015). "Lupita Nyong’o and TWD’s Michonne Are Headed to Broadway". Vulture. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- Guglielmi, Jodi (3 February 2016). "Lupita Nyong'o Urges for a 'Diversity of Stories to Be Told' as Ryan Murphy Launches Foundation to Support Minorities in Filmmaking". People. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
- Gates, Anita (31 October 2009). "In War-Torn Liberia, Women Making Do". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- Ludden, Jennifer (8 September 2009). "'Eclipsed' Brings Story Of Liberian Civil War To Stage". NPR. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- Bell, Nicholas (13 September 2013). "Mother of George - Review". IonCinema. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- Gleiberman, Owen (23 January 2013). "Sundance: 'Lovelace' is a porn biopic that gets under your skin". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- "Jean-Claude Gahd Dam". Spike. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
- Carpenter, Nicole (2016-01-11). "Walking Dead's Danai Gurira Cast as Tupac Shakur's Mother". IGN. Retrieved 2016-01-12.
- Bibel, Sara (March 30, 2015). "'The Walking Dead' Season 5 Finale is Highest Rated Finale in Series History, Garnering 15.8 Million Viewers". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- Goldberg, Lesley (18 March 2012). "'The Walking Dead' Casts Sword-Wielding Heroine Michonne". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- Ross, Dalton (23 May 2012). "'The Walking Dead': Exclusive first look at Danai Gurira as fan favorite Michonne". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- Goldberg, Lesley (22 March 2012). "'The Walking Dead's' Danai Gurira Excited to Embody Badass Michonne". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- "Michonne". AMC Networks. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- King, Susan (19 September 2013). "'Walking Dead's' Danai Gurira aims to go deep in her varied roles". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- AP (26 January 2014). "Gurira: Zim helped shape theatre passion". New Zimbabwe. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- Gomez, Patrick (22 July 2015). "The Heartwarming Reason The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira Is Offering Fans a Chance to Meet Her". People. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- McVeigh, Tracy (7 March 2015). "Poverty is sexist: leading women sign up for global equality". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- Knorovsky, Katie (10 March 2014). "African Storyteller: Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira". National Geographic Traveler. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- US Weekly Staff. "Danai Gurira: 25 Things You Didn't Know About Me". Us Weekly. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Bried, Erin (17 February 2015). "The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira Talks Staying Balanced and Strong". Self. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Fleming Jr, Mike (11 January 2015). "‘Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira Set To Play Tupac’s Mom Afeni Shakur In ‘All Eyez On Me’". Deadline.com. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- McNary, Dave (11 January 2015). "‘Walking Dead’ Star Danai Gurira Joins Tupac Biopic". Variety. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- Graham, Susie. "Danai Gurira and Corey Hawkins of The Walking Dead nominated for NAACP Image Awards". Undead Walking. Fansided. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- Gray, Margaret (23 April 2012). "Theater review: 'The Convert' at the Kirk Douglas Theatre". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- Maier, Marissa (25 January 2013). "Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Nominees Announced (Full List)". Backstage. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
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