Black Panther's Danai Gurira Will Play A Historical Trailblazer In An Upcoming Movie

Danai Gurira as Okoye in Black Panther

In the last few years, Danai Gurira has established an impressive big screen presence for herself thanks to her performances as the Wakandan warrior Okoye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but now she is preparing to step out of the blockbuster world so that she can step into the shoes of a remarkable icon. The story of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black congresswoman, is now being developed as a film, as the Black Panther star is set to play the lead role.

Variety has broken the news that Danai Gurira has been tapped to play the titular role in The Fighting Shirley Chisholm, which is set to be directed by Cherien Dabis (whose filmography includes episodes of a variety of shows including Ramy, Ozark, and The Sinner). Rather than being a full biopic that chronicles the entire life of its subject, the film will instead focus on one particularly key period – specifically when she was running to become the President Of The United States in 1972.

Born in 1924, Shirley Chisolm grew up in Brooklyn, New York and attended Brooklyn College before earning her Masters degree at Columbia University. Her first step into politics was in a support role, as she helped campaigns for those she supported, and she was a member of the Brooklyn Democratic Clubs and the League of Women Voters. She first ran for a seat in the New York state assembly in 1964, and while she faced resistance she first won in the Democratic primary and then trounced her Republican and Liberal party opponents in the election. In 1968 she ran for U.S. House of Representatives serving New York's 12th congressional district, and once again won in a landslide, making her the first Black woman ever in congress.

She ran for president on the Democratic ticket in 1972, with the party trying to unseat incumbent Richard Nixon, and The Fighting Shirley Chisholm will explore her efforts to show voters that she would be the right candidate for the fight. The project was previous set up at Amazon Studios with Viola Davis set to play the lead role, but now it's moving in a different direction.

Danai Gurira hasn't been in a film since kicking ass on screen in last year's Avengers: Endgame, though she did get a big spotlight to stand in earlier this year with her character's departure from The Walking Dead after several seasons. In addition to her acting work, she is also producing a new series for HBO Max called Americanah, which is expected to debut next year.

The trade report announcing this casting news doesn't mention a production schedule for The Fighting Shirley Chisholm, but hopefully it's a movie that won't linger too long in development. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more exciting news about the project.

Eric Eisenberg
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.