Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira’s planned adaptation of the novel “Americanah” has received a straight-to-series order at HBO Max, Variety has learned.
HBO Max has given the limited series a 10-episode order. Nyong’o will star in the series, with Gurira writing the pilot and serving as showrunner.
Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel, “Americanah” tells the story of Ifemelu (Nyong’o), a young, beautiful, self-assured woman raised in Nigeria, who as a teenager falls in love with her classmate Obinze. Living in a military-ruled country, they each depart for the west, with Ifemelu heading for America, where, despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple for the first time with what it means to be black. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous undocumented life in London.
“‘Americanah’ has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013,” Nyong’o said. “It’s a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless. HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of ‘Americanah.’”
Gurira and Nyong’o will both executive produce, with Nyong’o producing under her Eba Productions banner. Plan B Entertainment will also produce, with Andrea Calderwood of Potboiler Television, Didi Rea and Danielle Del of D2 Productions, and Nancy Won executive producing as well.
“Through ‘Americanah,’ Chimamanda brought the African female voice into mainstream consciousness in an unprecedented way,” Gurira said. “It is intellectually incisive, indicting, yet full of humor, and riddled with humanity. She makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific. I am honored to bring her incredible novel to life on the screen. I’m thrilled to collaborate once again with Lupita who brings her astounding ability as a performer and producer shepherding this project, along with HBO MAX’s unbridled enthusiasm to bring this groundbreaking narrative to the TV audience.”
Nyong’o had previously planned to adapt the novel into a film in which she would star alongside David Oyelowo. She revealed last year that the plans had changed to adapt it into a series instead.
“Americanah has sparked a cultural phenomenon and is revered by fans around the world,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max. “It has affected me deeply as one of the most moving, socially relevant and romantic stories of our time. With exceptional talent like Lupita and Danai in front of and behind the camera, this series will give viewers a uniquely heartfelt and unforgettable experience.”
The series marks a reunion for Nyong’o and Gurira, who starred together in the blockbuster Marvel film “Black Panther.” Nyong’o previously won an Oscar for her performance in “12 Years a Slave” and is also known for starring in films such as “Us” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” “Americanah” will mark her first regular TV role.
Gurira currently stars in the hit AMC series “The Walking Dead,” though she is set to depart that series in its upcoming tenth season. She was nominated for a Tony Award for writing the Broadway show “Eclipsed.”
Nyong’o is repped by CAA and Del Shaw. Gurira is repped by UTA, Suskin Management, and Jackoway Tyerman. Del and Rea are repped by Stone Genow.