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Danai Gurira next ‘Walking Dead’ star

Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne in “The Walking Dead,” is playing such a popular character on the AMC  series that you can bet her star power will have shot up dramatically when she finally decides to go back to stage work.

She doesn’t worry about how a TV show will impact her career on stage  because long before Gurira started leading two limbless, jawless zombies around on the AMC series, she had distiquished herself as a stage actor and writer.

She made her Broadway debut in August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” in 2009. Before that, in 2006, Gurira won an Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle Award for writing, and the Helen Hayes Award for Best Lead Actress for her off-Broadway play “In the Continuum.”

She brings those skills to the TV series playing the sword-swinging woman of mystery. Often, a high-profile role like this one would give an actor a little more clout when it comes to the New York stage. That was not a factor for Gurira joining “The Walking Dead” cast.

“As a playwright, I feel extremely blessed. Every play I’ve written has been widely produced in the biggest theaters in the country. Plus, people who are deeply into theater don’t pay too much attention to television for the most part,” Gurira tells me. “Broadway does tend to cast movie stars and that’s been an issue in theater.

“Maybe I’ll get more stuff because of this, but what I think’s interesting is that at least I came along the hard path. I was a playwright and worked on Broadway before the TV show. If being on ‘The Walking Dead’ ends up and gives me any leverage, at least I’ve done the work.”

Starring in a sci-fi project often gets an actor far more attention than ones who primarily work on stage. Gurira doesn’t have to worry too much about “The Walking Dead” fans following her around like celebrity following zombies. She looks completely different from her series character and sports an extremely short haircut, a complete contrast to the dreadlocks of Michonne.

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