On January 31, Danai Gurira, star of Black Panther and The Walking Dead, stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Having just celebrated a SAG Award win with her Black Panther family for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Gurira spoke about working with her co-stars, actors Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright, on the stage.
In fact, Gurira was working on theatre projects with both of the actors at the time of Black Panther casting.
“[Lupita] was acting in Eclipsed, and I was the playwright, so I was coming in and out. I’d see her several times a week,” said Gurira. “We’d hang out. I had heard that I had this offer, and I was told ’hush-hush’ and I’m used to hush-hush.
Little did I know she's right there hushed, too.
“We finally figured it out when [writer-director] Ryan [Coogler] came and watched the play, and we were like, ‘You know Ryan? I know Ryan! How do you know Ryan?’”
Gurira was also trying to cast Wright in a play of hers, which led her to find out she would also be in Black Panther. “I knew Letitia because she was actually in that same play Eclipsed in London in 2015, the same role that Lupita played.
Then when I was trying to cast another play of mine in London, they were like Letitia's not available because Letitia's actually going to be in a film with you.”
Gurira made her Broadway debut onstage in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and her Broadway playwriting debut with Eclipsed, which earned her a Tony nomination. Her play Familiar premiered Off-Broadway in 2016 and recently finished a run at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.
Black Panther was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Motion Picture of the Year. Viewers will see how the film fares at the February 24 Academy Awards ceremony.