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The Walking Dead

Danai Gurira: 5 Things to Know About the Walking Dead Actress

Behind the kick-ass, katana-wielding, dreadlocked Michonne, there's the kick-ass, pen-wielding, cropped-haired Danai Gurira. In many ways, Danai is totally different from her The Walking Dead character — but she's equally amazing. After reading this, you'll want to be her best friend, or at least her protegee.

Want to know more about Danai? Read on!

Unlike Michonne, Danai Is Pretty Talkative. "I’m extremely verbal. I talk," Danai admitted in a Q&A with AMC. "But I get it. I loved not having to talk for awhile. I think Michonne was probably a little bit more of a talker before the apocalypse."

She Was Born in Iowa, but Raised in Zimbabwe. "We moved to Zimbabwe when I was five, some years after Zimbabwe had gained independence," Danai told Rolling Stone. She reflected, "Zimbabwe was at its height. It was the gem of Africa. It had a lot of modernity. It was in a very interesting moment."

She Doesn't Just Act — She's a Playwright, Too! Danai's two-woman play In The Continuum, which she co-wrote while still in NYU's acting program, snagged her a 2006 Obie Award, a 2006 Outer Critics Award, and a 2004 Global Tolerance Award. A later play, Eclipsed, gained major accolades, as well, including Best New Play at the 2010 Helen Hayes Awards and Best Playwright at the 2010 NAACP Theater Awards.

Like Co-Stars Steven Yeun and Sonequa Martin-Green, She Studied Psychology. Before Danai realized her calling was to "tell African women's stories," she was a social psychology student at Macalester College in Minnesota — although she began acting at 13 while living in Zimbabwe.

She says that given her work to tell these stories, both as an actress and a playwright, TWD appealed to her. "My last play had been about women in war, and that's what Michonne reminded me of — those chicks that turn into rebel fighters who are scary," she said in her Rolling Stone interview. She elaborated, "I went to Liberia and I met these chicks. Reading about her and seeing her in the comic book, she was reminding me of those chicks. The parallels of The Walking Dead world and a war zone — that idea was very resonant to me. Who you are right now is a luxury of choices."

The Katana Isn't Her First Sword. Danai had some broadsword training in college, but, she admitted to the LA Times, "The broadsword is nothing compared to the katana.” She continued, “I watched a little video of the broadsword being tested against the katana just in terms of little things that have to do with severing armor or whatever, and the katana was so much more bad-asser than the broadsword. The broadsword was useless almost — it was like, ‘Oh, you Brits, you failed. Japanese 1, Brits 0.’ It was like learning from scratch because it is not the same weapon.”

Want more? Read the latest Michonne spoilers and news here!

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on AMC.


Sarah Anne Lloyd is an Associate Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!


10.31.2013 / 12:00 AM EDT by Sarah Anne Lloyd
Related: The Walking Dead, Features, TV, TV Stars, Michonne , Danai Gurira

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