Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira’s series adaptation of the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie novel “Americanah” is no longer moving ahead as planned at HBO Max after Nyong’o was forced to exit the series, Variety has learned exclusively.
“Americanah” was originally meant to start shooting earlier this year, but the production dates were pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Nyong’o then had to drop out as it conflicted with other projects on her schedule.
The show originally received a 10-episode straight-to-series order at the streamer last year. Both Nyong’o and Gurira were to serve as executive producers on the show, with Nyong’o starring and Gurira writing and serving as showrunner.
A long time passion project of Nyong’o’s, she had previously planned to adapt the novel into a film in which she would star alongside David Oyelowo. She revealed in 2018 that the plans had changed to adapt it into a series instead.
Along with Nyong’o, the series was set to star Uzo Aduba, Corey Hawkins, Zackary Momoh, and Tireni Oyenusi. It 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 (Momoh). 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.
This is the latest in a growing list of shows that have been scrapped due to the pandemic. Others are the Netflix shows “The Society” and “I Am Not Okay With This,” while the fourth season of “GLOW” was also recently scrapped. Elsewhere, Showtime pulled the plug on a second season of “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.” Other examples include the ABC drama “Stumptown,” which had its second season renewal reversed at the broadcaster in September.