On Saturday, February 22 2020, a select few were invited to a reception held by award winning novelist and author of Purple Hibiscus, Half of A Yellow Sun and Americanah, Chimamanda Adichie, in honour of Oscar award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, at the Ebonylife Place at VI Lagos.
Late in 2019, Chimamanada’s novel, Americanah was picked up by HBO for a 10 episode limited series, which will be starring Lupita as lead actress as well as executive producer of the project. Danai Gurira, Lupita’s costar from Black panther, wrote the series pilot and would also be starring alongside her.
The Kenyan actress got to take in some of Nigeria’s culture, as well as hobnob with the best and brightest in the Nigerian creative industry. Movie actors, artists, film producers, were present at the event.
Ebonylife Place that evening admitted the likes of Mo Abudu, Joke Silva, Dakore Akande, Jade Osiberu, Joey Akan, Richard Mofe Damijo, Femi and Seun Kuti, D’banj and several of Nigeria’s entertainment industry heavyweights.
Lupita had expressed her love for Americanah since 2013 and her interest in bringing it to life. In several interviews, she has gushed about how much she connects with the story of Ifemelu.
“Americanah has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013. It’s a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless”.
“Just before 12 Years came out, I pre-ordered that book and I could not put it down,” she said. “To see an African woman whose identity was in a flux in the way that Ifemelu’s is in the book just spoke so deeply to me. I could not stop thinking about it so I immediately contacted her.”
Earlier in 2014, it was announced that Nyong’o was set to play Ifemelu, the Nigerian protagonist of the story, who moves to the United States, where she begins to have her first American experiences of racism. David Oyelowo was set to play Obinze, and Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, was reportedly involved as well. However, that didn’t exactly pan out.
The length of the book inspired the decision to make it into a series, rather than clip it into a movie.
With the release of Purple Hibiscus in 2013, Chimamanda Adichie attained acclaim in the Nigerian literary scene. Since then, she has lent her voice to issues of racism and feminism and has garnered fans across the world. Adichie’s Americanah was released in 2013. Her previous work, Half of A Yellow Sun, published in 2006, has also been adapted to screen. Released in 2013, the film featured Chiwetel Ejiofor as its lead, telling the story of two sisters against the backdrop of the Biafra war of 1967-1970.
Born in Nigeria to Igbo parents, the novelist left Nigeria at the age of nineteen to the United States to pursue a university degree. It was while in her final year at Eastern University that Chimamanda started working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus.
In 2009, Chimamanda gave a Ted talk, titled “The Danger of a Single Story” which focuses on the perils of a single narrative, to the detriment of the full picture. In 2012, Chimamanda had another Ted talk titled “We should all be Feminists”, which got adapted into a book of the same title and was sampled by Beyoncé in her song titled, Flawless.
Adichie has graced several podiums over the years, spoken at several events, and hobnobbed with some of the most powerful and influential people in the world and has established herself as a novelist of reckon.
Lupita Nyong’o, made her acting debut in 2008, in a short film titled East River before returning to her homeland Kenya to feature in MTV Shuga from 2009-2012.
The Kenyan-Mexican actress got her big break in 2012, where she played the role of Patsey in “12 Years A Slave”, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first Kenyan and Mexican actress to win an Academy award.
In 2018, Nyong’o featured in Marvel’s hugely successful movie, Black Panther, which won several awards including the Academy Awards for Outstanding Production Design and brought her and the whole cast international reckon.
Americanah will not be Nyong’o’s first film adaptation. 12 Years A Slave is an 1853 memoir by a slave that was adapted to screen. In 2018, it was announced that Lupita would be playing the role of Trevor’s Noah’s mother Patrcia, in the screen adaptation of his book titled Son of Patricia.
Chimamanda Adichie and Lupita Nyong’o have stellar records in their professions. They have both risen to the top of their careers through talent and grit.
Actress and novelist, they have become role models to black women all over the world, showing what is possible.
These two heavyweights are carrying the African continent to the world and making us proud.
The combination of their efforts on Americanah can be nothing but epic. We cannot wait to see the book come alive.
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