The Sunday News
ZIMBABWEAN actress Danai Gurira’s growing influence was illustrated recently when 300 luminaries from business and civil society in Chicago came together to honour her during a fundraising luncheon by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company on the 10th anniversary Women in the Arts celebrations at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel.
Gurira has emerged as one of the breakout stars from Africa over the last few years, with her role as a zombie slayer on smash hit show the Walking Dead making her one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood. Her roles on Marvel’s Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War has seen her stock rise even further, with more high profile roles seemingly still on the horizon.
However, while her roles on Hollywood Blockbusters have contributed to her glowing CV, it is her lesser known work as a playwright and champion of women’s rights that have won her adoration from entities like the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
“I’ve always thought of our June 2018 cover star Danai Gurira as the face of the mega-successful film, Black Panther, but what I failed to realise is that she is incredibly well-rounded,” said Brett Jeffries, Ebony director of brand marketing, who attended the luncheon.
Jeffries added, “Not only is she an award-winning actor, but she also focuses on gender equality and women’s rights through her work with the United Nations as a Goodwill Ambassador. And if that weren’t enough, she’s a very talented playwright, which is evident in her brilliant work as the author of Familiar. Danai is Black girl magic. Kudos to Steppenwolf Theatre for selecting her as this year’s Women in Arts honoree.”
The luncheon brought together 300 leaders from Chicago’s business and civic communities to honour Gurira for her impact on the theatre industry. Notable guests included Steppenwolf ensemble members, Scandal star Jeff Perry and Familiar actor Celeste M. Cooper among them.
The event raised $200 000 for the theatre’s educational and professional development programmes, which include the lauded Steppenwolf for Young Adults and the School at Steppenwolf, as well as the Professional Leadership Programs that provide apprenticeships, fellowships and internships for future arts managers and producers.