Hollywood’s New Leading Ladies: Lupita Nyong’o And Danai Gurira
BLACK PANTHER star Danai Gurira was one of four honourees to be recognised at the annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards yesterday, however she turned the spotlight on her co-star Lupita Nyong’o, who had flown in to Los Angeles to present Gurira with her award.
“I don’t know where to start,” Gurira began her acceptance speech, “I don’t know where to begin.” She then led the audience into a roaring rendition of “Happy Birthday”, and presented Nyong’o with a tray of cupcakes to mark her 35th birthday.
The word “surprise” didn’t cut it, as the Kenyan-Mexican star, who looked every inch the birthday girl in a high-shine purple Ronald Van Der Kemp couture minidress, blew out the candles and thanked her “friend, collaborator and sister”. “I had to do that, I’m sorry,” Gurira said. Nyong’o “just got off a plane late last night, [and] made it here at midnight on her own birthday. That’s sisterhood right there.”
The two friends have previously starred in Gurira’s critically-acclaimed Broadway play,
The two friends have previously starred in Gurira’s critically-acclaimed Broadway play, The Eclipsed, about enduring war as captive wives in Liberia, and will team up again to write the screenplay for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah for a TV miniseries.
For now though they have the success of Black Panther and Nyongo’s birthday celebrations to revel in (last year the duo threw a joint Coming to America-themed birthday party). Of making cinematic history together in the Marvel superhero film, Gurira said, “We are told there is a ‘they’ that makes all decisions and determines our lives and our destinies and life’s work and we must simply wait for their validation and for our number to be called.”
“We must reach out to those who have yet to get to the other side of self-acceptance and self-love and help them see their greatness,” she added. “Help them know that there is something inside of them that the world needs despite how it treats them.”
Wearing belted Loewe and Gabriela Hearst platforms, Gurira’s outfit was a small nod to this inner-strength. As Nyong’o’s stylist Micaela Erlanger told us of her client’s Black Panther tour wardrobe, “we adopted a really strong warrior mood”. Nyong’o and Gurira standing together on the stage at the pre-Oscars event symbolised the new age of Hollywood and the ladies leading the way.