Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) will star in and Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) will serve as showrunner for the limited series Americanah, which was ordered straight-to-series by HBO Max, Warner Brothers’ upcoming streaming service.
The 10-episode series Americanah is based on the book of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It has long been a passion project for Oscar-winner Nyong’o who optioned the novel shortly after it was published in 2013.
In the series, Nyong’o will play Ifemelu, who is raised in Nigeria and falls in love with a classmate named Obinze as a teenager. Both characters emigrate to the West. Ifemelu goes to America where she experiences academic success but for the first time must confront what it means to be black. Meanwhile, Obinze is barred from joining Ifemelu in America due to 9/11 and instead ends up living as an undocumented immigrant in London.
This is a show with a lot on its mind and, in its exploration of race, immigration, and identity, will be a story that’s highly relevant to our times.
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Gurira and Nyong’o, who co-starred in Black Panther, also worked together on the play Eclipsed, which Gurira wrote and Nyong’o starred in. It was Nyong’o who recruited Gurira to join Americanah. Gurira will write the show’s first episode and executive produce along with Nyong’o and others.
Of the project, Nyong’o said,
"[Americanah is] a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless. 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] makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific. I am honored to bring [Chimamanda’s] 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 had a long road to the screen. When Nyong’o originally optioned the story, it was going to be a feature film. However, the expansion into a limited series feels warranted for a narrative that deals with such weighty topics. A series will allow for a deep dive into the characters and the troubles and triumphs they face.
Are you excited that Americanah will be coming to the small screen as a limited series? Share your thoughts in the comments.