As soon as her samurai sword-swinging Michonne character entered The Walking Dead, it was clear Danai Gurira would be an actress to watch. Now, she’s gotten a major feature role: she’ll play Afeni Shakur in the Morgan Creek Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me. She joins a film that is already underway in Atlanta, with Open Road distributing. The film is directed by Benny Boom, and Demetrius Shipp Jr plays Tupac.
In Afeni Shakur (who is an exec producer on the film and the keeper of the flame on her son’s estate), Gurira plays a complex woman. A political activist and member of the Black Panthers, Afeni raised her son to be a voracious reader with a political awareness that informed his development as a street poet. The film covers Tupac’s rise to stardom as a hip-hop artist and actor, as well as his imprisonment and prolific, controversial stint at Death Row Records, where he was steeped in the East Coast/West Coast rap war. It took a long time for this film to make it to the start line. But the timing seems fortuitous after the out-sized grosses of another hip-hop origin story, Straight Outta Compton. The film is produced by James G Robinson and David Robinson of Morgan Creek Productions, along with LT Hutton.
Gurira’s other screen credits include The Visitor and Mother Of George. She’s also an award-winning playwright: her play Eclipsed, which opened off-Broadway with Lupita N’Yongo starring, moves to Broadway in March, and her play Familiar opens off-Broadway in March.