Later this year, HBO Max — now officially known as the streaming service responsible for the forthcoming Friends reunion special — is debuting the television adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s novel Americanah, with none other than Danai Gurira as showrunner. Here’s what we know about the project so far.
What is Americanah about?
The book, which won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and was named as one of EW’s best of 2013, is an immigration novel with the heart of a romance. It opens in New Jersey, where protagonist Ifemelu is in the middle of a fellowship at Princeton University and struggling with everything that comes with being a Nigerian woman in the middle of suburbia. She’s highly intellectual, unsettled by the race relations she witnesses in the United States, and unsatisfied with the (albeit quite successful) life she begins to build, which sets off her longing for home in Lagos.
Ifemelu has a childhood love interest, Obinze, who she was forced to leave behind because of visa issues. Their paths converge, as paths tend to do in literary fiction, in Lagos, where they are each attempting to discern a new sense of self post-immigration.
Who’s in the Americanah cast?
Gurira, fresh off her final stint on The Walking Dead, is acting as both showrunner and writer. “I’m involved with every angle of it,” she told EW during her recent digital cover shoot. “It’s not a small thing to be taking on a 600-page novel and bringing it to the fore as a TV show. But I realized that if I didn’t do it I would never, ever forgive myself. Taking it on will require everything I’ve got, and then some.”
Gurira’s Black Panther costar Lupita Nyong’o will play the lead role of Ifemelu. Obinze will be played by Zackary Momoh (most recently seen as John Tubman in Harriet), and Uzo Aduba will star as Ifemelu’s aunt Uju, who was once a General’s mistress in Lagos before being forced to flee to the U.S. with her young son. Gurira tells EW that despite her heavy involvement (or perhaps because of) behind the camera, she won’t be taking on an acting role in Americanah.
When does Americanah premiere?
No date has been set for the streaming series, but filming begins in Nigeria, London, and the United States later this spring.