Danai Gurira, star of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” opened up about how moving to Zimbabwe sparked her passion for the arts.
Gurira has taken the small screen by storm, but many of her fans might not know that she’s also a playwright.
When she was only 5 years old, Gurira moved from her home state of Iowa to live with her parents in Zimbabwe.
It was there that she found her love for the arts after her parents surrounded her with literature.
She attended college in South Africa for a semester before returning to the U.S.
“It was at that time, really, that I decided to devote my life’s work to the dramatic arts,” she said.
In 2011, Gurira extended her love of playwriting and created the Almasi Collaborative Arts, which is a nonprofit group that aims to merge the gap between Zimbabwean artists and American theater professionals.
The organization has managed to cater to art education in Zimbabwe and thrives off the motto “Kudzidz hakuperi,” which means “learning never ends.”
Gurira’s plays are often address problems than many of the people of Zimbabwe face daily.
One play, “The Convert,” is one of her many Almasi projects that tells the story of a young girl who is forced to “choose between her family’s African traditions and Western values that she’s embraced.”
In addition to having a powerful role on “The Walking Dead” Gurira hopes that her plays will continue to empower Zimbabwean women.
“I think it’s very important to encourage the Zimbabwean female voice to be as bold and as loud as it deserves,” she told the Associated Press.
In her role on “The Walking Dead” she portrays a strong, no-nonsense woman, who is frequently putting her zombie-killing skills to the test.
Her character in the TV series about a fictional apocalyptic America, has empowered just as many young women as her plays have.
“A lot of girls approach me and say ‘you make me feel strong,’ “ she said. “I get that a lot from girls. Women of all ages actually.”
In addition to writing plays for Almasi, Gurira also reaches out to theater professionals via Skype to gain more partners for the organization.