*You may not know it, but “Walking Dead” and “Black Panther” star, Danai Gurira‘s first love is not acting, but writing.
A play that Gurira wrote in 2012 called “The Convert,” which deals with her Zimbabwean/American heritage, recently opened in London at the Young Vic, starring her “BP” costar Letitia Wright.
The play, which Gurira calls “something I deeply needed,” is set in colonial Zimbabwe in 1896 and reflects on the period solely from the African perspective, with no white characters on the stage. Directed by Ola Ince, the story unfolds in the round with sparse, stylized sets that bring even greater drama to the narrative, reports the LA Times.
Mind you, she’s got other productions happening at the same time in other parts of the world. “Familiar,” her 2015 play is ibeing staged at Chicago’s Steppenwolf. Meanwhile, another production of “Familiar” will opened at San Diego’s Old Globe on Jan. 26.
On screen, Gurira is as busy as ever. Her “Black Panther” character, Okoye, is likely to return in next year’s “Avengers: Endgame,” and she is adapting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah” into a miniseries starring her pal, Lupita Nyong’o.
The playwright, actress and now Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women took a few days to fly in for the opening of “The Convert” in London, where she sat down to discuss the production, her career and why onscreen representation is essential for people of color.
Have your plays been performed in London?
This play has been done at the Gate, which also did “Eclipsed” — which Letitia was in as the lead role. I didn’t work with her too much with “Eclipsed.” I came in for a few days for that one, but I couldn’t get back to watch a performance. So I got to know her a little bit then, but not as much as I did during “Black Panther.” At this point, we have a shorthand with each other for many things.
Did you have say in her casting in this production?
Yes, in the sense that it was very much something [Young Vic Artistic Director] Kwame [Kwei-Armah] thought of immediately. I was completely in love with the idea.
Get the rest of this Danai Gurira Q&A at Los Angeles Times.