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Danai Gurira

Full / Real Name: Danai Jekesai Gurira
Born: 14 February 1978 (42 years old)
Gender: Female

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Bio

Danai Gurira is an American actress best known to television audiences for her starring role as mysterious zombie slave-keeping sword slayer Michonne on the horror series The Walking Dead.

Prior to joining The Walking Dead, she finished production on the independent drama Ma' George, the story of an African woman's struggle after arriving in the U.S. to honour her heritage while attempting to define her new marriage in modern terms.

Gurira also starred in the multiple-award winning film The Visitor, in which she played a Senegalese immigrant in New York trying to survive while her illegal immigrant boyfriend is detained by the U.S. government.

Other film credits include Three Backyards and Restless City. Her television credits include roles on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Lie to Me and Nurse Jackie as well as a recurring role on the HBO David Simon series Treme.

An award-winning playwright, her play The Convert (Stavis Award) is an historical drama set in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Part of a trilogy Gurira wrote about her native country's coming of age, it earned rave reviews in its run at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles.

Gurira was born in the U.S. and raised in Zimbabwe. She earned an MFA in theatre from NYU after moving back to the U.S.

Her initial success was as the co-lead of In the Continuum (a play she co-created and co-wrote while in the acting program at NYU.) The upbeat powerful story focused on two women: one, an upper class, educated newscaster in Africa; the other, an impoverished teenager in south central L.A., who discover that they are HIV positive, and learn to cope in the face of hatred, discrimination and ignorance.

Gurira performed the play off-Broadway, in numerous theatres around the U.S. and in Africa and received numerous accolades including an Obie, the Outer Circle Critics John Gassner Award, the Global Tolerance Award (Friends of the United Nations) and the Theater Hall of Fame Honours.

Gurira also received the Helen Hayes Award (Woolly Mammoth.)

She subsequently received a grant for research in Liberia and Sierra Leone which resulted in her second play Eclipsed — the story of women abductees trying to survive during that region's devastating civil war. Gurira won Best Playwright at the NAACP Theater Awards and Best New Play at Helen Hayes Awards.

On Broadway, Gurira starred in Bartlett Sher's award-winning revival of Joe Turner's Come and Gone. She also earned the Actor's Equity Callaway Award for her performance as Isabella in the 2011 Shakespeare in the Park production of Measure for Measure.

Gurira is also a Hodder Fellow at Princeton and a commissioned playwright with Yale Rep. She is co-founder of Almasi, a theatre development and production company in Zimbabwe.

She divides her time between New York and Los Angeles.

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