If you're a fan of AMC's hit show, "The Walking Dead," then chances are you've heard the name Danai Gurira. That name belongs to the actress who'll be playing the mysterious and kickass new character, Michonne, in the show's upcoming season. Michonne's introduction to viewers was dramatic; it involved her cutting -- no, chopping -- off the head of a zombie. We never got to see her face, but with two armless and jawless zombies in tow her impact was undeniable. Those you who are a little more squeamish (and don't watch the show) have probably seen her in "Law & Order," HBO's "Treme," or in the moving and critically acclaimed film, "The Visitor."
In real life, the Iowa-born Zimbabwean doesn't rock a sword as part of her look (not all the time anyway; it turns out she's in the middle of training at the moment). She's also much less intimidating in that zombie-slayer sense. She is fierce, though (yes, I said it), and extremely passionate about her work as a playwright. She's developing a reputation for creating roles for women of African descent, while examining themes that are universal. In the process she's challenging perceptions about Africans and their history. Her plays include "Eclipsed," which is about women in Liberia during that country's civil war and "In the Continuum," which centered around two women dealing with HIV. That play made the top ten lists of The New York Times, Newsweek, and New York Magazine in 2005.
Her most recent work is "The Convert," which runs from April 19 to May 19, 2012 at The Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City.
I got to talk with her on April 18, which is also the date of Zimbabwe's independence from British Colonial rule (in 1980). We talked about her play, the influence of independence, returning home, and of course, about her "badass" new role on "The Walking Dead."
Christabel Nsiah-Buadi is an award-winning broadcaster, producer and writer who has covered news, culture and politics events in Europe, Africa and the Americas. She's a Scottish-born Ghanaian who grew up in England and now lives in Los Angeles (via Barbados and New York); and a proud child of the African Diaspora.