In 2014, many fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah were hopeful that a film adaptation of the novel was in the works. Especially after Lupita Nyong’o optioned rights for the novel. But as the years passed, the film never came, even though the book sparked international interest and acclaim. The novel won the National Book Critics Circle Fiction in 2013, and landed on the New York Times Book Review’s “Ten Best Books of 2013.” Americanah thoughtfully explored race, immigration, post 9/11 politics, and identity, in what the New York Times called a “witheringly trenchant and hugely empathetic” love story.
Now, nearly six years later, reports have confirmed that the adaptation will be on the silver screen as a limited series starring Lupita Nyong’o, with Danai Gurira attached as showrunner and executive producer.
Here’s everything we know about the new project.
The show will air on HBO Max.
While there hasn’t been a set schedule released for the 10-episode limited series, it did find a home at HBO MAX, a streaming service in development by the company. The network announced that they are proudly taking on Ngozi Adichie's work.
“Americanah has sparked a cultural phenomenon and is revered by fans around the world. It has affected me deeply as one of the most moving, socially relevant and romantic stories of our time,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, in a statement to Deadline. “With exceptional talent like Lupita and Danai in front of and behind the camera, this series will give viewers a uniquely heartfelt and unforgettable experience.”
Lupita Nyong’o will star in the main role.
According to Deadline, Nyong’o will star as Ifemelu, the protagonist of the book. Ifemelu is a young Nigerian woman who moves to the United States to attend university and in doing so deals with the ramifications of loving a man who lives across the ocean, and learning about what it means to be black outside of Nigeria.
“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,” said Nyong’o to Deadline. “HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of Americanah.”
Brad Pitt’s production company will produce the show.
Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B, has been signed on to produce the show. They have been attached to the project since Nyong’o optioned it in 2014. Plan B also produced 12 Years A Slave which Nyong’o also starred in. Andrea Calderwood for Potboiler Television, Didi Rea and Danielle Del for D2 Productions, and Nancy Won are also named as produces on the show, according to Variety.
The rest of the cast and crew has yet to be announced.
The rest of the show’s cast and crew remains to be seen. David Oyelowo was originally cast in the film as Ifemelu’s love, Obinze, according to Vice, but it is not clear if he is still set to star in the show.
Gurira is confirmed to be writing the pilot of the episode, alongside showrunning and executive producing the series, but it is unknown who else will be brought into the writer's room.
This is not the first time Nyong'o and Gurira have worked together.
Beyond their roles as co-stars in Marvel’s Black Panther, Gurira and Nyong'o have been involved in other critically acclaimed projects. Nyong'o starred in Gurira’s six-time Tony-nominated play Eclipsed, about the civil war in Liberia. The play, which ran in 2016, received raving reviews and made Broadway history for its majority female cast and crew.
This post will be continuously updated.