‘Black Panther’s’ Danai Gurira Reflects on Her Red Carpet Fashion Choices

When it comes to style, “Black Panther” star Danai Gurira is constantly learning. “This is a whole other art form,” says Gurira, who donned a tribal-inspired uniform, head tattoo and red lipstick as head bodyguard, Okoye. “Okoye had a strength and femininity and a pride — pride in her people and her culture. … She was so great to play because she was many things a woman can be — without apology.”

Gurira joined AMC’s hit horror
series “The Walking Dead” in season three, and for the sixth season fan premiere at Madison Square Garden, the actors took their outfits up a notch. “The boys were all going to wear tuxes so we girls were stepping it up also,”
says Gurira, who chose this “fun and fitting” full-skirted Oscar de
la Renta look with longtime stylist Thomas Carter Phillips. “I loved this dress. It just worked.” Recalling how she had a blast, Gurira says, “We got to celebrate our work in MSG! So many folks from the crew made it, too. It was pretty awesome.”

An award-winning playwright, Gurira’s Broadway play “Eclipsed” — featuring Lupita Nyong’o as one of five Liberian women — racked up six Tony nods. “This dress was so celebratory,” she says of her ’50s-esque Rosie Assoulin Tony look. “Beautifully crafted and such a fun and strong color. It
had a life of its own.” Her night proved equally festive. “[It] was indeed a celebration, of our work, of the work of those in our theater community. I remember dancing until 4 [a.m.] at the ‘Hamilton’ party while Questlove kept us on the dance floor with his exceptional skills.” Less fun was her 8 o’clock flight back to Atlanta for “The Walking Dead” shoot.

“I feel like it chose me,” says Gurira of the “commanding” Jean-Louis Sabaji dress adorned with a sequin phoenix that she wore to “Black Panther’s” London premiere. “I had to submit. It was so unique, so stunningly crafted, so alive.” Several of her closest friends attended. “Many of the folks I grew up with in Zimbabwe now reside in London. To watch the movie with them was something deeply special.” As fellow “theater geeks,” they could appreciate her artistic journey — and her fashion. “They still joke about how carefully I sat down and stood up in that dress! But they thought it was pretty cool.”

For her first Oscars, Gurira picked this pale pink Gabriela Hearst gown. “It was so classic, soft and elegant,” she says. “It spoke to the occasion and simply felt right.” She had an “epic evening” attending the awards alongside some co-stars from “Black Panther” — of which she’s so thankful to have been a part. “Ryan [Coogler] accomplished an unprecedented act: he made a superhero movie told from the black perspective that did not compromise on authenticity or relevance. As a result, great storytelling was achieved and the response manifested that all stories, when told with excellence and truth, are truly universal.”

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