Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira reteaming to adapt Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel ‘Americanah’ for HBO Max

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Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o appear at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 6, 2019. NBC photo

The “Black Panther” dream team of Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are reuniting on HBO Max.

The pair’s planned adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel “Americanah” has earned a straight-to-series order at the upcoming streaming service, Variety reports.

An Oscar winner for “12 Years a Slave,” Nyong’o will star as Ifemelu in the series, which will “Americanah” will be her first regular TV role. Gurira will write the pilot and work as showrunner.

“‘Americanah’ has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013,” Nyong’o said, per Variety. “It’s 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.’”

Here is the summary of Adichie’s best-selling novel:

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. 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. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

Gurira and Nyong’o will both executive produce, with Nyong’o producing under her Eba Productions banner. Plan B Entertainment also will produce, with Andrea Calderwood of Potboiler Television, Didi Rea and Danielle Del of D2 Productions and Nancy Won executive producing as well.

“Through ‘Americanah,’ Chimamanda brought the African female voice into mainstream consciousness in an unprecedented way,” Gurira said, per Variety. “It is intellectually incisive, indicting, yet full of humor, and riddled with humanity. She makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific. 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.”

Nyong’o had previously planned to adapt the novel into a film in which she would star with David Oyelowo. Last year, she revealed that plans for the adaptation had changed.

HBO Max has given the limited series a 10-episode order. The streaming service is due to launch in 2020.

“Americanah has sparked a cultural phenomenon and is revered by fans around the world,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, per Variety. “It has affected me deeply as one of the most moving, socially relevant and romantic stories of our time. 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.”


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