PASADENA – January 15, 2020 – HBO Max, the upcoming direct-to-consumer offering from WarnerMedia set to launch in the spring of 2020, announced today that Sundance award-winning director Chinonye Chukwu (Clemency) will direct the first two episodes of its limited drama Americanah. Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel of the same name, Americanah is an epic story of a woman born in Nigeria who leaves for America and her extraordinary experiences with love, heartache, adversity and self-discovery. The 10-episode limited series will star Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave; Black Panther), Zackary Momoh (Harriet), Emmy Award® winner Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), and Tony Award® nominee Corey Hawkins (In the Heights; BlacKkKlansman). Tony Award® nominee Danai Gurira (Black Panther; Eclipsed) will serve as showrunner and writer.
“Fresh off her Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Clemency, we are thrilled to have Chinonye direct the first two episodes of Americanah.” says Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “When she spoke so passionately about what it meant to her as a Nigerian filmmaker to tell this story, we knew we had the perfect partner to work alongside Danai, Lupita, and Plan B.”
Nigerian born Chukwu wrote and directed the film Clemency, starring Alfre Woodard, which was released in December 2019 to rave reviews. She received the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2019 for the film, making history as the first black woman to receive this award. This year, Clemency was nominated for two Gotham awards along with Chukwu being nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for best screenplay, Woodard for best actress and Clemency for best feature. Chukwu is attached to direct an adaptation of former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown’s memoir, A Taste of Power. She is repped by CAA, Gochman Law Group and Grandview.
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 (Momoh). Living in a military-ruled country, they each depart for the west. Ifemelu heads for America, where she finds academic success, but 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. A highly lauded tale that has become a leader in the cultural conversation, Americanah is an incredible exploration of the human experience that crosses three continents to give an empathetic, compelling view of the complex realities of race, politics, immigration and identity.
The series will be executive produced by showrunner and writer Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o for Eba Productions, Plan B Entertainment, Andrea Calderwood (Generation Kill) for Potboiler Television, Didi Rea and Danielle Del for D2 Productions, Nancy Won(Jessica Jones) and Erika L. Johnson (The Village).
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