You might know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her sample on Beyoncé's song "***Flawless:" Queen Bey excerpted part of Adichie's TEDTalk "We Should All Be Feminists," in possibly the most, well, flawless collaboration of all time. And now Adichie, who just won the National Book Critics Circle Award for her 2013 novel Americanah, is teaming up with another incredible, flaw-free star: Lupita Nyong'o. In an interview with Arise 360 about her upcoming film adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun starring Nyong'o's 12 Years a Slave co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor, Adichie gave a very vague but very promising foreshadowing that Nyong'o might have some news soon about an upcoming project with Adichie, most likely as the star of an Americanah film adaptation.
"Lupita was a very early fan ... she wrote me the loveliest, very long and passionate email about Americanah," Adichie said. The thought of Lupita Nyong'o writing an email itself is almost too uplifting for me to bear, but one addressed to an author who inspired her; that's even better. It's incredible that a feminist novelist like Adichie is becoming so visible in the mainstream. Thanks not only to Beyoncé but to the proliferation of her TEDTalk, the crossover between celebrity and author is becoming slimmer and slimmer for Adichie. And why shouldn't it? Hailing from Nigeria, Adichie is still young—only 36—and she could give a new visibility to young women of color and the necessity of their voice.
And it's exciting, too, that Nyong'o, who just won an Oscar for her performance in 12 Years a Slave, wants to work with Adichie. Nyong'o, who is also from Nigeria, has established herself in such a short time as a strong voice on the disparity of expectation between white women and women of color, especially regarding beauty ideals, which she so eloquently addressed in her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. Her talent is matched only by her poise, and she has opened up a conversation about achievement of women of color in America, which Adichie explores thoroughly in her literature.
Americanah, likely (hopefully!) the project that Nyong'o will be joining, is Adichie's third novel, about a woman from Nigeria who comes to America to attend university. It's a story not unlike Nyong'o's own; born in Mexico, Nyong'o's father is a Nigerian activist, and she has spoken about her experience as an immigrant in America. These stories are not uncommon, but they are uncommonly told, and for such a talented force like Nyong'o to star in a genius Adichie's (literally a MacArthur genius) novel adaptation on the big screen would be a victory.
If I sound exalting, it's because I am. I don't think enough praise can be put upon two women whose lives are open struggles, and who have battled their adversity with grace. It is not easy to be a woman of color in America, and it surprises me — in the best of all possible ways — that a novelist like Adichie is crossing paths with some of our most beloved celebrities, because it brings her words to those that might not otherwise have heard them.
You can watch Adichie's interview with Arise 360 here. Half of a Yellow Sun, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor with the most magnificent beard of the year, opened at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2013, and hopefully will come to theatres worldwide soon.