Danai Gurira, most commonly known for her role as Michonne in The Walking Dead, has taken her talents to the stage.
The actress makes her Broadway debut this March as the playwright for her original stage play Eclipsed, starring Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o.
Gurira says she wants to humanize African women and educate the West about their lives. She was shocked that Africans don’t have the opportunity to share their stories on American soil, and says she plans to change that immediately.
“The stories about Africans always somehow miraculously had a Western protagonist. And I was, like, wow, do we not merit our own ability to tell our own stories?” she says.
“If you come into this theater, you are going to sit down and you’re going to spend two hours or so with an African woman and you’re going to get to know her,” Gurira says. “You are going to see a full person, just like you see when you go watch all them other things.”
In an interview with PBS Newshour, Gurira says Eclipsed will grapple with the experience of five women in the Liberian war zone in 2003. Out of the five, three of those women have been abducted at different stages of their lives and become forced “bush wives,” sex slaves to a commanding officer.
Nyong’o says massive research and rehearsal were needed for such an intense production.
“Hours each day we’ve rehearsed mock battles. Gun specialists taught use of rifles, handling, shooting. This is depth not glitz. Our four other accomplished actresses onstage did hours of research to gain authenticity,” she says.
In an interview with Variety, Gurira echos her passion in the Newshour feature:
“I tell African women’s stories. It doesn’t mean I don’t do other things, but that’s my thing. It’s rooted in a passion for that, and it’s rooted in a rage, because I feel that they are so under- and misrepresented. I’m trying to link these two places, and have Africa be seen by the West in a more multidimensional, complex and celebratory way,” she said.
Eclipsed will be on Broadway March 6th.
Here is Gurira’s PBS interview in full: