Danai Gurira Reflects on Africa's Astounding Potential

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Why you should care

Danai Gurira had an “idyllic childhood” in what was then not a failed state, but a country with great promise. 

OZY's new TV show, Breaking Big, explores the secrets to success.OZY's new TV show, Breaking Big, explores the secrets to success. Click to find out more.

OZY Media’s third prime-time television show, Breaking Big, airs Fridays at 8.30 p.m. ET on PBS stations, OZY.com and Facebook Watch. Join us as we explore the unexpected journeys to success of some of the world’s most influential stars.

So far, we’ve heard from Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, and restaurateur Eddie Huang. This week we turn the camera on actress Danai Jekesai Gurira. Best known as Michonne in The Walking Dead and, most recently, as Okoye in the blockbuster hit Black Panther, Gurira sees her success as an opportunity to tell untold stories of African women and of her homeland, Zimbabwe.

When Gurira — who was born in Iowa but spent most of her childhood in Zimbabwe — landed back in the United States to study psychology in college, she was on a decidedly academic track. But her inner storyteller yearned for more — so she researched master’s programs in fine arts, earning herself a spot at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. This was where she had to go “to learn all the rules,” she says, “so I’d know how to break them.”

Tune in tonight to learn how Gurira broke the rules and overcame the obstacles to Hollywood success — to both create and perform while paying tribute to her beloved Zimbabwe and the passion she’s had since childhood for “women being considered equals.”

Future Breaking Big guests include country music star Jason Aldean, SoulCycle and Flywheel cofounder Ruth Zukerman, fashion designer Christian Siriano and acclaimed author Roxane Gay, among many others.

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