Since her Oscar-winning breakout role as Patsey in Steve McQueen's critically acclaimed drama, 12 Years A Slave, Lupita Nyong'o has redefined what up-and-coming screen actresses, especially actresses of colour, can achieve in Hollywood.
In the past couple of years, Lupita has gone on to star in ground-breaking films — from the Oscar-nominated Black Panther to the record-breaking Star Wars: The Force Awakens — and in March, she will returns to our screen as the lead in Jordan Peele’s Us.
She's only accepted meaningful and impactful roles, a fact that was reinforced when she acquired the rights to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's third novel, Americanah. She will both star in and co-produce the small screen adaptation of the beloved book.
In a cover story interview with AnOther, Lupita revealed that she hounded Chimamanda for the rights to Americanah for years:
"In fact, just before 12 Years came out, I pre-ordered that book and I could not put it down. To see an African woman whose identity was in a flux in the way that Ifemelu’s is in the book just spoke so deeply to me. I could not stop thinking about it so I immediately contacted her.
I had no stars or stripes to my name except, ‘I’m an actress from Kenya and I read your book and I love it and I’m going to be in this movie called 12 Years a Slave.’ I had no idea what that meant anyway, but I knew I wanted to make this."
Tony-nominated playwright and Black Panther star, Danai Gurira is currently working on writing the screenplay for the Americanah miniseries, for which she and Lupita visited Lagos last year for research. But why a miniseries, and not a movie? Lupita explains:
"It’s very hard to reduce just to a movie. We discovered that, while we were trying to adapt it, we needed more time.
It’s been a long journey with Americanah, but I feel like projects come to be in their own time, in their right time. We’re very near, we’re so close to a production date and that’s really exciting."
It feels incredibly natural that Lupita would be the one to bring this book to life. Like most of her work, Americanah touches on issues of race relations, self-identity and the erasure of black identity through diaspora communities. We cannot wait to see what they create.