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Danai Gurira’s new role with UN Women is as inspiring as she is

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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She’s following in Emma Watson, Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway’s footsteps. 

The world last saw Danai Gurira as the fierce leader of the Dora Milaje in Black Panther.

Head clean-shaven and deadly with a spear, Gurira’s General Okoye was a sight to behold on the battlefield, not averse to striking out at her onscreen lover W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) when he stepped out of line. Along with Letitia Wright’s Shuri, she was one of the best things about the whole movie.

But her next role promises to be even more thrilling. Gurira has just been named UN Women’s newest Goodwill Ambassador and the first black woman to hold the position. By taking on the title, she’s following in the footsteps of fellow Goodwill Ambassadors Emma Watson, Anne Hathaway and Nicole Kidman. 

“I am honored to join the UN Women family today,” Gurira said in a statement. “My passion for women and girls has been my focus in the narratives I create as well as the roles I have been able to play. I have always sought to push the boundaries and tell the stories of those who are often marginalized and unheard.” 

Danai Gurira in Black Panther

“My own advocacy for women and girls has made me deeply aware of UN Women,” Gurira’s statement continued. “I have experienced the work of this organization on the ground as well as internationally, and I am delighted to partner with them to amplify many more stories from around the world, and give a voice to those who are working relentlessly to make gender equality a reality.”

Gurira has long been an advocate for women’s rights. Speaking at the UN on International Women’s Day, she urged people to look to the world of Wakanda in Black Panther for lessons on reaching equality between men and women.

“I think what resonates a great deal about Wakanda,” Gurira said, “was it brought a world where – go figure – women and men work shoulder to shoulder, and their abilities are equally valued in a society. And that, I think, brought so much response and attention because it is astounding that we’re not there yet.”

Aside from agitating for equality between the genders, Gurira uses her platform to bring awareness to HIV and AIDS. Speaking this weekend in light of the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day on 1 December, Gurira said: “African women are at the heart of this issue and they’re often the least heard. Some girls are affected by this epidemic every day.” 

Danai Gurira at the Governor’s Awards

Gurira, who was born in the US but raised in Zimbabwe, said that she grew up surrounded by the visible reminders of the impact of the immune disease. “I witnessed its effect on society and communities and families,” she said. “It really did affect me in that regard.”

Gurira’s next onscreen credits will be in the Avengers: Infinity War sequel and future episodes in the current season – the ninth – of The Walking Dead, where she stars as Michonne. 

But, just between us, we’re more excited about her awe-inspiring new role with UN Women. 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

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