Black Panther star Danai Gurira slays on every level. When she is not giving us black excellence on the movie screen, she is busy being an insightful playwright in the theater world.
The actress' play Familiar will premiere at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota this weekend according to the StarTribune.
Familiar is about an interracial marriage between a highly-educated educated Zimbabwe American woman and a white man from Minnetonka. The play first premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2015, and The New York Times called it “fiercely funny."
Gurira says the play is very much inspired by her own family.
“It’s the closest thing to my own family that I’ve ever written,” Gurira said. “I was at a wedding some years ago that involved cultural interconnections and clashes. That inspired me."
Gurira also said that although she is primarily known for her acting prowess, she loves acting and writing equally, and that she feels both artforms make up her calling.
“I look at writing and acting both as storytelling, and as long as the storytelling or the story is something I feel a deep desire or urgency to tell, I’m in my purpose,” Gurira said. “There are times, yes, where I need to go quiet for a while and go write — give the writing its space and time. But whichever one I’m doing, it feels like I’m working within my calling, which is telling stories I’m deeply connected to, which I feel a passion in my heart for and a deep desire to tell.”
Her previous plays centered on African American women and the intersection of their emotional and psychological health. One of her first plays, In the Continuum, was a story about the impact of AIDS. Another play, The Convert was centered around a young woman's internal battle between her East African traditions and a Western belief system.
Her passion for telling stories about African immigrants stems from her childhood.
“Africans are the most educated immigrant group in this country,” she said. “I grew up around African immigrant parents who have Ph.Ds and master’s degrees, and a lot of other Africans with Ph.Ds and master’s degrees, but I’ve never seen that perspective told of the African experience. In a large way, immigrant stories are not told very often or very deeply. There’s a very large African population in the Midwest, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Minnesota, so it just made sense that that’s where the story takes place.”
As the success of Black Panther thrusts her into the international spotlight, Gurira said her number one goal is to be a role model for young girls.
“If I can steady my shoulders enough so that young girls ad women can stand on them, then I feel like my purpose is actualized," Gurira said.