Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, who last teamed up in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, are reuniting for Americanah, a limited series on WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service HBO Max. The 10 episode series is based on the novel of the same name written by best-selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Nyong’o will play Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman who is falls in love with a classmate, Obinze, but is separated from him. Ifemelu travels to the United States where she succeeds academically, but is forced to grapple with what it means to be black. Obinze, unable to join Ifemelu in the U.S., is forced to live as an undocumented resident in London. After 15 years, the two are reunited in newly democratic Nigeria. Gurira will write the pilot and serve as the showrunner. The book was the Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 2013 and listed among the New York Times Book Review’s “Ten Best Books of 2013”.
This sounds like an incredible project and is sure to be one of HBO Max’s tentpole shows. It’s particularly exciting to see Nyong’o and Gurira get a chance to work together again, especially for a project where they will both likely have considerable creative input. Nyong’o and Gurira seem to have become very close during the filming of Black Panther and it’s been fun to follow their friendship via social media. You can check out a gallery of their photos from their respective Instagram feeds, as well as the official press release for Americanah below:
HBO Max Orders Limited Series Americanah
Starring Oscar® Winner Lupita Nyong’o
Adapted for Screen by Tony® Award Nominee Danai Gurira
Plan B Entertainment, Eba Productions, Potboiler Television and D2 Productions to Produce Adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Best-Selling Novel
LOS ANGELES – September 13, 2019 – HBO Max, a division of WarnerMedia Entertainment, today announced a straight-to-series order for Americanah. Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel of the same name, Americanah is an epic story of a woman born in Nigeria who leaves for America and her extraordinary experiences with love, heartache, adversity and self-discovery. The 10-episode limited series will star Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave; Black Panther), with the pilot being written by showrunner Danai Gurira (Black Panther; Avengers: Endgame), who was nominated for a Tony Award® for writing the Broadway show Eclipsed.
“Americanah has sparked a cultural phenomenon and is revered by fans around the world. It has affected me deeply as one of the most moving, socially relevant and romantic stories of our time,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “With exceptional talent like Lupita and Danai in front of and behind the camera, this series will give viewers a uniquely heartfelt and unforgettable experience.”
“Through Americanah, Chimamanda brought the African female voice into mainstream consciousness in an unprecedented way. It is intellectually incisive, indicting, yet full of humor, and riddled with humanity. She makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific,” said Gurira. “I am honored to bring her incredible novel to life on the screen. I’m thrilled to collaborate once again with Lupita who brings her astounding ability as a performer and producer shepherding this project, along with HBO MAX’s unbridled enthusiasm to bring this groundbreaking narrative to the TV audience.”
“Americanah has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013. It’s a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless,” said Nyong’o. “HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of Americanah.”
Americanah tells the story of Ifemelu (Nyong’o), a young, beautiful, self-assured woman raised in Nigeria, who as a teenager falls in love with her classmate Obinze. Living in a military-ruled country, they each depart for the west, with Ifemelu heading for America, where, despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple for the first time with what it means to be black. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous undocumented life in London. A highly lauded tale that has become a leader in the cultural conversation, Americanah is an incredible exploration of the human experience that crosses three continents to give an empathetic, compelling view of the complex realities of race, politics, immigration and identity.
The series will be executive produced by Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o for Eba Productions, Plan B Entertainment, Andrea Calderwood (Generation Kill) for Potboiler Television, Didi Rea and Danielle Del for D2 Productions, and Nancy Won (Jessica Jones).
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.