By TNJ Staff – March 23, 2020
The following contains spoilers from the latest episode of “The Walking Dead.”
Michonne, one of the fiercest survivors of “The Walking Dead,” has hung up her weapons — at least for now.
The Katana sword-wielding enigma, one of the zombie apocalypse franchise’s most iconic characters, sailed off into the sunset at the conclusion of the most recent episode of the blockbuster AMC drama after getting a clue on the whereabouts of her lover, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who was kidnapped by enemy forces last season. Her departure also marked the exit from the series of Danai Gurira, who has played Michonne since the third season.
Gurira informed producers a few years ago that she wanted to devote more time to other creative endeavors, including her career as a playwright. Her play “Eclipsed” was nominated for a Tony Award in 2016.
She is currently working on the HBO Max series “Americanah,” which teams her with a “Black Panther” costar, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. The limited series centers on a Nigerian-born woman who encounters love and difficulties after she leaves her country for America. Nyong’o stars while Gurira is the showrunner.
The dreadlocked Michonne was a standout in the “Walking Dead” universe — a fearsome fighter who was relentless in her battles with adversaries both dead and undead. She was even more noteworthy as one of the few black action heroines in popular culture.
Q: So your leaving “The Walking Dead” has been in the works for a while.
A: I shared with (executive producer) Andrea Yang that I felt it was time for me to leave the show to pursue other creative endeavors sometime in 2018. So after last season, when (series lead Lincoln) left, they started to work on that. After that, she started to share with me the architecture of Michonne’s exit. Later on, I was able to contribute to aspects of it. They were very willing to collaborate with me, which I was very thankful for.
Q: What was your emotion filming your final episode?
A: There was the fear of it, the pain of it, the dread of it. We felt we were really working on an exit that would have her leave with integrity. It was also a moment of pain leaving the family I’ve lived with for so long. And then there was the bittersweetness of stepping into other aspects of who I’ll be as an artist and a person in the world. But it was also feeling the joy I had with the crew that I’ve had so many laughs with for so many years.
Q: Michonne was definitely an iconic character, especially since she was a black woman who was truly a bold action hero. What do you feel about the impact you and this character had on popular culture?
A: I can only be thankful that this character was created at all, that she was able to be this remarkable woman in the way she was scripted, arced and developed, and how I was able to collaborate with that. It was very beautiful to see her resonance. I write black female characters and I was like, “I wish I had come up with this.” I thought it was interesting and fascinating. I was very honored to be able to step into her, and I took it as a great responsibility because it hasn’t always been the case that a black actress would get a role like this. It’s been getting better, but I was very, very grateful for the opportunity, and did not take it lightly. It was an event to see a character like this brought to life on the screen.