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Danai Gurira Talks Eclipsed And Friendship With Lupita On The Tonight Show

Actress, playwright, and sword-wielding zombie killer, Danai Gurira, stopped by the The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to talk about the monumental success she’s earned in 2015. 

Author of a show headed to Broadway? Check.

Awarded “Person of the Year” at the African Diaspora Awards? Check.

Leading role on a popular prime time Television series? Check.

While all of these great things were in the works, Danai still found the time to give back. Her giving back was in the form of mentoring her friend (and one of our favorites!) Lupita Nyong’o, through the selection process of which graduate program to attend. Although Nyong’o didn’t choose Gurira’s alma mater, Tisch School of The Arts, the two were still on the same page artistically. In Nyong’o’s first year at Yale, she understudied the role in Eclipsed she would go on to play at The Public Theatre this past fall. As previously reported, Nyong’o will reprise her role when Eclipsed opens on Broadway in February. And to say we cannot wait, is an understatement!

Gurira has a lot to be proud of. Eclipsed, which she penned in 2009, had an extraordinary run at The Public Theatre— it was extended twice and sold out. Her team is equally as impressive and diverse, which adds on to the relevance of her high pressure story telling the personhood of Liberian women “navigating survival during a vicious civil war.” The show is produced by two African-American lead producers, Stephen Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey. Director Liesl Tommywho staged the play’s premiere at the Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington in 2009, is from South Africa. Lupita Nyong’o identifies as Mexican-Kenyan. Lastly, Gurira herself, was born in the United States and raised with her family in Zimbabwe. 

Outside of the playing “ Michonne” in The Walking Dead, Guira appeared in the films “The Visitor” and “Mother of George.” Her stage credits include the role of “ Isabella” in Measure for Measure for which she received the Actor’s Equity Callaway Award. As a playwright, she received an Obie Award, Outer Critics Award, and Helen Hayes Award for In the Continuum. For Eclipsed, Gurira won an NAACP Image Award, the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play, and the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Production of a Play. Her latest play, will premiere in New York at Playwrights Horizons in February 2016.

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