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Danai Gurira Cast As Sword-Wielding Heroine Michonne In AMC's "The Walking Dead"

by Tambay A. Obenson
March 18, 2012 11:57 PM
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I haven't watched it yet (it aired this evening) - the season finale of AMC's hit zombie drama series The Walking Dead, one of the few shows on TV that I actually watch religiously; after the show, on AMC's Walking Dead talk show, Talking Dead, the series' executive producer, Robert Kirkman, revealed some casting news that I know a lot of you folks have been anxious for, if past posts on the series are any indication.

Specifically, Kirkman announced the that the character named Michonne, one of the most popular characters from the Walking Dead comics, and described succinctly as "a sword-swinging badass" - and, oh, by the way, she's a black woman - will be coming in season 3; in fact, she actually made a brief appearance in tonight's season 2 finale, dressed in a hood and wielding a sword from what I hear (again, I haven't watched it yet).

And guess who's been officially cast to play Michonne?

Danai Gurira; some will recognize her from HBO's Treme; but I actually remembered her name from a previous posting on this site on director Andrew Dosunmu's latest feature project, Ma'George, which is currently in post-production.

So, of course I immediately searched the site to verify, and, yes, it is her. In Andrew's film, she's the starring character - a woman torn between her African culture and new life in America, as she struggles to please her husband and give him the son that will carry on his family’s legacy. 

Co-starring alongside Danai are Issach De Bankole (a man we've written about several times on this site), Yaya Dacosta (I doubt she needs an intro), Grammy Award-winning Angelique Kidjo (she likely doesn't need an intro either), veteran Nigerian actress Bukky Ajayi, and British/Nigerian actor Tony Okungbowa who also starred in Dosunmu's first feature Restless City. Although, some may recognize him as resident DJ for The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Apparently there were lots of surprises in tonight's finale of The Walking Dead (including Michonne's intro), and I'm looking forward to watchng it tomorrow.

As EW reports, producer Kirkman's announcement comes on the heels of news that Michonne's full history will be revealed in a new upcoming Walking Dead comic.

So, all you Walking Dead fans of the comic and TV series who've been hoping for this character's intro, your reactions?

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  • Jug | March 22, 2012 1:29 PMReply

    For everyone worried about what will or won't happen based on the graphic novel- A little insight to the world of good serialized television writing-

  • Donella | March 22, 2012 1:26 PMReply

    Michonne's introduction to the Walking Dead graphic novel was issue #19. According to this website, you can download that issue for free until Monday, March 26th. If you want to see Michonne's full storyline, you may have to purchase the bound book volumes from a chain store. However, most public libraries carry the Walking Dead issues due to reader demand. That way, you can see the original source material for the show and make your own judgment.

  • Yolanda | March 21, 2012 1:32 AMReply

    I love this show as well and can't wait to see what this actress will bring to the cast. Danai was not someone I was familiar with but I immediately went to her site and was impressed with her reel!

  • Mark Dudley | March 20, 2012 2:06 PMReply

    I love Walking Dead a great deal. However, I would like to point out that the entire "Zombie" genre as we know it was started as a treaties on the plight of America and black folks during the Civil Rights Movement. Also we, as characters, have been in this genre from the start.

    Also, I think that instead of complaining about the portrayals of African American characters in literature not written by us, maybe we should put more effort into putting those portrayals out ourselves. Just a thought.

  • LeonRaymond | March 20, 2012 2:13 PM

    Thank you so much Mark Dudley for pointing that out, wow where is the humanity!!!

  • Uncredited Rewrite | March 19, 2012 11:52 PMReply

    @Donella yes she is beaten, raped, and degraded in the graphic novel, but you failed to mentioned what she does to the person that does those things to her. You also failed to mention how much of a rock she is to the group when certain characters lose their sh*t. Now, if the television show fails to bring those points to the characters (which I doubt considering the importance of Michonne) then we can go there. With the origin story being published in Playboy, that's just stupid but I'm sure Hef greased the creators pockets to get that done. Maybe sales has dipped and not a lot of people like air-brushed genitals, but they LOVE zombies.

  • Donella | March 20, 2012 11:37 AM

    Michonne's retaliation was contrived by Kirkman in response to reader revulsion. It did not equalize the equation. And though there are other women in his series, none of them were subjected to that level of brutality.

  • Donella | March 19, 2012 6:26 PMReply

    This is a opportunity for the actress, but the portrayal of Michonne in the comic is pretty gruesome. She's considered a heroine, but she's brutally beaten, raped, and degraded.

  • Donella | March 19, 2012 6:57 PM

    Also, her origin story will be published in Playboy Magazine?

  • Jug | March 19, 2012 1:38 PMReply

    Great Choice!

  • kim | March 19, 2012 11:30 AMReply

    So Excited!!! Love this actress, she's brillant and she has the most loveable screen face.

  • kim | March 19, 2012 11:30 AMReply

    So Excited!!! Love this actress, she's brillant and she has the most loveable screen face.

  • Cindy | March 19, 2012 11:25 AMReply

    First film I saw her in was the visitor great film she's gonna be great in the cast !!!!

  • Uncredited Rewrite | March 19, 2012 10:17 AMReply

    I put on twitter last night that Danai was about to get a billion followers after being revealed as Michonne, she's not on twitter, but what's interesting about this character is not only how important she is to the graphic novel, but how important she is as a black woman in the ENTIRE geek rock city-scape. I mean until Michonne the most popular black female comic book character of all time was Storm in the X-Men. I dare you to name 10 black female comic book characters...I'll wait. With Michonne not only do we get a certified badass, but we also get a positive black action heroine that young women can look up to. Side note: Danai Gurira was also in The Visitor brilliant film.

  • Jeffrey | March 19, 2012 7:31 AMReply

    Michonne's character is very important to the comic. She literally saves Rick & the rest of the original group over & over.

    I'm not familiar with this actress, but can't wait to see her in costume. Also very interested in how the show will deal with Michonne's romance. She definitely tries at love in the comic, but the environment of The Walking Dead makes it tough for love to last.

  • Muse | March 19, 2012 2:42 PM

    LOL I think it's hardly a spoiler to mention that it's "tough for love to last" in a story full of zombies.

  • Thames | March 19, 2012 9:29 AM

    Why do you feel the need to spoil it for the rest of us?

  • Anton | March 19, 2012 7:00 AMReply

    AMC is completely reinventing television. They are the only network where the tv shows have more cinematic appeal as oppose to the stagey scripted television fare we get from other networks. Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, .etc., this is a cable channel that's putting the big three -- ABC, NBC and CBS -- to shame. And all of their shows (excluding the overrated Mad Men) all have a diverse cast. Mad props to them.

  • John | March 19, 2012 6:31 AMReply

    Walking Dead is my new found addiction. The graphic novels were introduced to me years back and I read most of them, very excited for season 3, if I remember the sword-weilding badass plays more of a role than just zombie-killer.

    Can't wait for the fall.


  • lavenderpop | March 19, 2012 2:55 AMReply

    I love the Walking Dead, but not familiar with the comic book. When I saw the scene tonight of the hooded sword wielding figure, first- I did not see that coming, second- when they did a close shot of the hood, I thought to myself...wouldn't it be cool if 'he' was black. I had a feeling the character would be black. So imagine my surprise to read that the character IS black, and that he is a she. LOVE IT!

  • AccidentalVisitor | March 19, 2012 12:34 AMReply

    Her arrival to the show was never a question of if, just when. The guy who plays Daryl confirmed to HuffingtonPost a couple of weeks back that the character was indeed coming aboard for season three. The Governor will be onboard too obviously with the prison station storyline just on the horizon. Doubtful Tyrese would be around. Not too surprised about that of course.

    Anyway this show has been simply horrible with its development (or lack of) of black characters and female characters, especially compared to the comic. So perhaps TPTB are going to make up for all that with Michonne.

  • Micah | March 19, 2012 5:22 AM

    As bad as comics can be with regards to race, they are often so much more progressive than TV. This comic series is a prime example. That being said I had a nerdgasm when the head of zombie attacking andrea came off and then we got a shot of Michonne!

  • Uncredited Rewrite | March 19, 2012 12:01 AMReply

    Considering the rumor had Rutina Westly as the likely candidate for Michonne. This is a MUCH better choice. And as a comic book geek the scene at the end of Walking Dead season 2 with Michonne was full on geekasm!

  • Micah | March 19, 2012 5:23 AM

    1. Co-sign
    2. Great screenname

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