Why is Lupita Nyong’o learning to speak Igbo and Pidgin English?

Francis Akhalbey February 26, 2020
Photo via @chimamanda_adichie on Instagram

Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o is currently in Nigeria as she prepares for the shooting of HBO Max’s ordered series for Chimamanda Adichie’s award-winning book, Americanah.

As part of her promotional run for the series, the Black Panther star attended a private reception in Lagos which was hosted by the Nigerian author.

Speaking to the Premium Times at the event, she revealed the series will be filmed at different locations in the West African nation. The Hollywood star, who will be playing the character of Igbo girl, Ifemelu, also revealed she is currently learning to speak the Igbo and English language so as to naturally fit in her role.

Lupita had earlier planned to adapt Chimamanda’s novel into a film in which she would star alongside David Oyelowo. However, she disclosed last year that the book will rather be adapted into a series.

“I was awestruck by Chimamanda’s ability to capture such exquisite character in a way that made me laugh but also made me feel seen. So, I’m in Lagos to immerse myself and learn as much as I can in order to do the story justice,” she said.


A huge fan of the award-winning bestselling book, Lupita added: “I remember finishing the book and falling madly in love with Obinze and at this point, he’s like the standard man that I’m still looking for. But I just felt like this is a character that I would love to embody on screen because what I do is act and her characters were just so actable.”

Adichie’s Americanah is a powerful, tender story of race and identity and is centered around two young lovers, Ifemelu and Obinze who depart military-ruled Nigeria in search of better fortunes in the West.

The heroine, Ifemelu, heads for America, where she is forced to grapple with what it means to be Black for the first time.

Not able to travel to the United States to be with her, Obinze finds his way to London, where he lives for several years as an undocumented immigrant. Nearly two decades later, the two reunite back home in Nigeria and re-ignite their undying love and passion.

Lupita, in a previous interview after reading the book, said she was struck by Ifemelu and Obinze’s stories as their “experiences as African immigrants are so specific and also so imminently relatable.” She also subsequently wrote to Chimamanda.

“She was genuine and true; it was clear my novel mattered deeply to her. Of course, a screen adaptation is never going to be exactly like a novel but I think it’s important that whoever adapts a novel should care about it in a very personal way. Americanah is my ‘baby’ and I’m happy leaving my ‘baby’ in Lupita’s care,” Chimamanda told the Premium Times.


The series plot for the HBO Max ordered project was written by fellow Black Panther star, Danai Gurira. She will also serve as showrunner of the 10-episode series.

Filming for the series will commence in March.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 26, 2020


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