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No Surprise. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Confirms Lupita Nyong'o Has Optioned Rights To 'Americanah'

by Jai Tiggett
May 30, 2014 12:02 PM
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Confirming what we announced in March, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made it official that Lupita Nyong'o has indeed optioned her novel Americanah. She did so during a book signing and reading of the novel, courtesy of Stylist Magazine, per the tweet above. But, really, it was quite obvious to us, given Adichie's hints in the below video interview we published 2 months ago. She all but said that Lupita had indeed optioned film rights to the novel. But now I suppose it's official. Now the uphill climb begins for Lupita, as she works towards packaging the project, making it attractive enough for the potential financiers she'll be seeking funding from. Our March post follows below...

Half of a Yellow Sun author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had a recent interview with Arise Entertainment 360 discussing her work, her novels, and last year's TEDTalk on feminism that had such an impact, and ended up on Beyonce's album.

Of interest to our readers, about halfway through the conversation turns to Hollywood. Regarding the banner year for black actors, Adichie says:

"I attribute that to the world finally realizing the immense talent that all of these black actors and actresses have... I think the problem with that though, is that it shouldn't be remarkable... I celebrate it, but it's a shame that we have to."

And the big news that Adichie shared, or hinted at, is an upcoming collaboration with actress Lupita Nyong'o

"I'm going to do the mysterious thing and say that Lupita might be making an announcement very soon. I don't know. That announcement might be about Americanah." 

That is, Adichie's 2013 novel Americanah, which centers on a young Nigerian woman who emigrates to America for a university education. 

With what we know of Nyong'o's background in Mexico and Kenya and her education at Yale, and her triple-threat talent as a director and writer in addition to acting, this sounds right up her alley. 

And the fact that Adichie would make such a statement, even "mysteriously," indicates that this is already a done deal. 

Find the interview below. They start to discuss the adaptation around six minutes in: 

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More: Lupita Nyong'o, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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  • juy | July 19, 2014 9:06 AMReply

    I definitely wouldn't watch an Americana movie. That book is a mills and boon paperback wrapped up with gender, race and class intersectionalities. I wouldn't watch it but your half of a yellow sun was a very good novel. Please chimamanda don't let American celebrity culture devour you.

  • Blackman | June 1, 2014 3:17 AMReply

    Wow this is groundbreaking, a book and movie about a African woman who emigrates to America for a university education. Stunning. Unique. Almost like the over 2.5 million university emigrants that are still here with and without degrees.

    yawns. does she live to find a scraggly white boy to sweep her off her feet? The books by this woman are stunning for its "quiet" lack of self love.

  • guest | May 31, 2014 4:52 PMReply

    @Done. I agree. It really does seem like this author has a white man fetish. I see a disturbing pattern in her work. The main character in Americanah is obsessed with white men. The two sisters in Half of A Yellow Sun were laying up with the same white dude. I wonder if the author is exploring her own interracial fantasies through her fiction.

  • What? | June 19, 2014 8:52 AM

    Really? You and I must not have read the same book.

  • Truth | June 1, 2014 3:15 PM

    Wow. You obviously didn't read Americanah. Why lie about her work?

  • Anonymous | May 30, 2014 4:00 PMReply

    I wish both women good luck with this project, however, from a business standpoint I don't see it being tremendously successful.

    I've not read the author's novel but I've heard her interviewed about it, and that's enough for me. I don't find the story all that compelling. ... As others have mentioned I don't see this as having universal appeal, which is important to draw ALL moviegoers, but definitely black moviegoers. S&A has been heavily pushing HAYS (Have a Yellow Sun), but I have to say I'm not really interested in seeing it. ...And I haven't gotten the sense that other visitors to this site are either. ... As an example, I believe Ava's "Middle of Nowhere" was so well received, and a critical darling, because many women -- particularly black women -- were able to relate to the three female leads. Ava did an excellent job of conveying the burden that many black women, especially, experience in thinking they have to be superwomen in every aspect of their lives.

    And I think many Americans -- particularly those of us who are black -- are "over" hearing about the immigrant story. We all know the implied subtext of the immigrant story, which is always held up to the history of slavery, and I, for one, am tired of Americans who happen to be black being pitted against immigrants in that way.

  • Until you've read the source material | May 30, 2014 4:40 PM


  • jeni | May 30, 2014 1:54 PMReply

    Wondering how they're going to change the work to make Ifemelu likeable. Actually, the book had a contemptuous tone in regard to most of the characters and situations, so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I've never read something that managed to offend/ridicule so many ethnicities and social classes, but she's an engaging writer.

  • jeni | May 31, 2014 2:40 AM

    I'm all for antiheroes, but if Ifem is scripted the exact same way she is in the book, it will likely leave a bitter taste in viewers' mouths. It would also be a strange career move for Lupita to take on a role that eventually becomes such an unsympathetic character at this point in her trajectory unless they soften the edges of Ifem's personality.

  • Likeable? | May 30, 2014 2:38 PM

    Maybe the reason we have such difficulty understanding "unlikeable" people in real life is because we never get to empathize with them in our art.

    More flawed, unlikable characters please. Less fake ass "heroes."

  • blackthought | May 30, 2014 1:11 PMReply

    Do all of Adichie's works feature Nigerian women lusting for white men?

    Half of a Yellow Sun featured two Nigerian sisters, both of whom, at some point, have sex with the SAME white man.

    Americanah features a young Nigerian woman who becomes romantically involved with a wealthy white man who she puts on a pedestal.

    Is this narrative of Nigerian women lusting for white men an obsession for this author?

  • DONE | May 31, 2014 3:40 PM

    @Blackthought, that just about does it for me... i'm out. Damn, Half of a Yellow Sun, Scandal... and now this, another story of the desperate black woman swinging on the white man's nuts.

  • guest | May 31, 2014 2:25 PM

    I think she has an obsession with white men. I've seen her husband and he would not be considered black in Nigeria.

  • troublemaker | May 30, 2014 4:28 PM

    Lupita better start making some changes because having a Nigerian woman romantically involved with a white man isn't going to sit well in a movie targeted to black Americans. Lupita needs to make some Hollywood changes. For example Hollywood use a white woman to play a black queen (Cleopatra). She needs to change that white man to a light skin man.

  • melissaenafrique | May 30, 2014 1:53 PM

    LOL. I don't know but she's married to a Nigerian Black man in real life. A doctor I think.

  • guest | May 30, 2014 1:45 PM

    Apparently so.

  • jaquay | March 25, 2014 3:33 AMReply

    Film-making is a business---

  • Mr Benson | March 20, 2014 7:56 AMReply

    So Chimamanda will give out another rich role to a non Nigerian actress again. I guess it will still be a flop like Half Of A Yellow Sun.

  • NoYouDidnt | March 20, 2014 8:03 AM

    Don't be ignorant. There were many Nigerian cast members in that movie. Lupita probably made the offer for this one.

  • Ade | March 18, 2014 5:44 AMReply

    The book is a fascinating read. The sections about Nigeria read like a never-ending Roman holiday. How true. Can't wait to see the film.

  • Blackman | June 1, 2014 3:21 AM

    What's a roman holiday?

    you believe that 'stolen story.' laughs out loud. No wonder this woman writes fairytales with white people at the center.

    again, groundbreaking. unique.

  • Nikki | March 16, 2014 3:32 PMReply

    This is a project I will definitely follow closely. I'm a huge fan of both.

  • NO IT DOESN'T | March 16, 2014 10:05 AMReply

    "And the fact that Adichie would make such a statement, even "mysteriously," indicates that this is already a done deal."

    No. No it doesn't.

  • jai | March 16, 2014 4:51 PM

    Yes actually, it does. Authors, and most creatives, don't usually make public statements about a project like this until some definite action has already been taken. When/whether a studio will back it, and when/whether we'll see it in theaters, is another conversation. But Adichie's statement strongly indicates that she's given her consent for the material to be used.

  • Janet | March 16, 2014 8:34 AMReply

    Great news. Have not read the book yet, but the author was interviewed on NPR recently and the story sounds intriguing. Ms. N., appears to have networked very well over the past year, so if this comes to pass, I won't be surprised to hear some heavy hitters backing it... or even a successful crowd funding campaign. Strike while you're hot.

  • Connections? Are you serious? | May 30, 2014 1:46 PM

    Lupita just won an Oscar: everyone in town wants to be connected to her. As if that weren't enough, she's got allies in Brad Pitt and his Plan B company, the same company now producing Ava's SELMA.

    This is a slam-dunk for her, the fact that SHE took out the option should be something more specifically celebrated, a foreign black woman who in a year's time has won the craft's highest prize and gained enough capital that she can afford to pay for and control the rights to the most celebrated novel of the past literary cycle. THIS is progress, where others in the past would have sought to convince a studio to broker the deal and option the material, Lupita has taken those steps herself. Tremendous

  • LL2 | March 16, 2014 11:04 PM

    Unless Lupita's a producer, I don't see how she will get heavy-hitters involve. Either way, she is still a Hollywood newcomer and its doubtful she has that many connections this early in her career. Besides, Adiche is not well known in the U. S. and I don't see a significant amount of moviegoers clamoring for her latest novel to be made into a movie. It will probably be a small project like "Half a Yellow Sun". I'm not so sure this is a good idea but if something is in the works, I wish Lupita all the best. Its good to see her working.

  • Moulin | March 15, 2014 7:37 PMReply

    Hope it doesn't turn out like Half of a yellow sun. Get a strong hand and team around it.

  • Jessica | June 2, 2014 9:11 PM

    @Star: She is not "very well known in the US". I have never heard of her. Clearly she is not mainstream.

  • LL2 | March 18, 2014 9:32 PM


    I will modify my comment. I will agree Adiche is well-known in certain circles but she is not will known with mainstream American movie-going audiences. She is not on the level of commercial authors like JK Rowling or Stephen King who have a history of their work being turned in to hit movies. As far I know, only "Half a Yellow Sun" been made into a movie and I haven't heard of its US release date yet. If its been released, I'm certainly not seeing any press about it. This is comment is not to discredit Adiche, I'm sure she is very talented but she tends to write from a specific cultural experience as opposed to a universal human experience and that limits her ability to have widespread appeal, especially in the US. She probably is more popular in UK because a significant number of its black population has roots in Nigeria. I lived in Nigeria for a couple of years as a kid, so I'm curious about "Half a Yellow Sun" but I don't know if I would necessarily relate to her story of the immigrant experience in "Americanah" because despite my multi-ethnic background, I'm still an American with roots in this country.

    Personally, I have a preference for works that have more universal themes. I love the Joy Luck Club movie, one of my favorite movies of all time, because ultimately it wasn't about being Chinese-American, Asian, or a person of color. It was a movie about the relationship between mothers and daughters, an experience that is not limited to a specific culture and/or race.

  • Star | March 18, 2014 10:18 AM

    I was responding to LL2. Not sure why I could not post under LL2's comment.

  • Star | March 18, 2014 10:16 AM

    Adichie is very well known in the U.S. Even before Beyonce featured her in that "Flawless" song she was being read by American readers. She has the been the hot "it girl" in literature for a minute. There are a lot of people here in the States who would look forward to seeing her work adapted to the silver screen.

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