Danai Gurira to be honored as 'Champion of Change' at the 2023 Impact Awards hosted by TIME

Renowned Zimbabwean-American actor, playwright, and women's rights advocate Danai Gurira has secured a prestigious spot in TIME Magazine's 2023 TIME100 Impact Awards whose ceremony will be held on the 17th of November in Kigali, Rwanda. This recognition highlights global leaders driving positive change within their communities. Other notable recipients include Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Gra├ža Machel and Idris Elba.

Danai Gurira to be honored as 'Champion of Change' at the 2023 Impact Awards hosted by TIME
Danai Gurira

Danai Gurira who is celebrated for her versatile talents, initially aspired to delve into social psychology and public policy during her formative years. Reflecting on her journey in a TIME profile, she remarked, "I just didn't see how I could use the arts to contribute to society. I thought being an artist seemed light and flighty; I wanted to focus on the heavy stuff."

The turning point occurred in 1999 while studying in Cape Town. Intrigued by the story of South African actor John Kani, imprisoned for his role in the anti-apartheid play "Sizwe Banzi is Dead," Gurira found inspiration to utilize storytelling as a catalyst for social change. "Learning about that type of courage, I knew I had to be courageous in my own way," she expressed. "I needed to tell the stories that I felt needed to be heard."

Born to Zimbabwean parents in the US state of Iowa and raised in Zimbabwe, Gurira identifies herself as "Zimerican," and has remained committed to her mission. As an actor, she gained acclaim for portraying intricate characters on both the big and small screens. Her groundbreaking play, "Eclipsed," a political drama depicting five Liberian women during the Second Liberian Civil War, marked a historic milestone as the first Broadway play with an all-Black, all-female cast and creative team, earning Gurira a Tony nomination in 2016.

Beyond her artistic pursuits, Gurira's advocacy, recognized by her appointment as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2018, centers on gender equality and human rights. Through her Love Our Girls initiative launched seven years ago, she sheds light on the injustices women and girls face globally, amplifying the voices of those effecting change behind the scenes.

Love Our Girls, an online campaign features women who, in Gurira's words, are "not trying to get attention; they're just trying to change the issue." Gurira facilitates a platform for experts to share insights into the challenges they face and the transformative work they undertake. Recently, conversations with figures like Abigael Simaloi Pertet, an agronomist with the Mara Elephant Project Experimental Farm, and Barbrah Naserian Kiming’o, a Maasai woman at the forefront of environmental conservation in Kenya, have graced Love Our Girls’ digital spaces.

Gurira's commitment extends to the dramatic arts, evident in her co-founding of Almasi Collaborative Arts over a decade ago. Operating as a nonprofit in Zimbabwe, the organization supports African artists through educational initiatives and collaborations with institutions in the United States. Gurira aims to bridge the gap caused by limited access and opportunities for African playwrights, envisioning expansion beyond Zimbabwe to unearth undiscovered talents across the continent.

"I've been very inspired by the people that we have been able to champion—their artistry, their focus, and their courage with the stories they're telling. That's really what's allowed us to continue," Gurira emphasized. Looking ahead, she envisions Almasi expanding its footprint to other African nations in the next five years, emphasizing the wealth of untold stories waiting to be shared. "We have a lot of stories to tell," she affirmed. "And only we can tell them."

Visit the TIME website for more information.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

twitterinstagramI like sharing positive stories about Zimbabweans at home and abroad. I also write articles on Personal Finance, Fashion, Music, and Tech. Let's connect!

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