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'The Walking Dead' Star Danai Gurira: 10 Things You Didn't Know About AMC's Michonne

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Danai Gurira as Michonne
(Photo : Facebook/The Walking Dead) Here are 10 things that you probably didn't know about "The Walking Dead's" Danai Gurira.

If you're a big "The Walking Dead" fan, then you have definitely witnessed Michonne's transformation from a lone-wolf survivor of the zombie apocalypse into a valuable no non-sense member of Rick's group. But do you know the actress behind the katana-wielding hero as much as the character she plays? Here are 10 things that you probably didn't know about Danai Gurira:

1. She calls herself a "Zamerican."


(Photo : Getty Images/Frazer Harrison)

 

Gurira, 37, was born in Iowa, but in 1983 she and her family flew back to her parents' native country, Zimbabwe. "We moved to Zimbabwe when I was 5, some years after Zimbabwe had gained independence," Danai told Rolling Stone in 2013."Zimbabwe was at its height [at the time]. It was the gem of Africa. It had a lot of modernity. It was in a very interesting moment."

As to why she calls herself a "Zamerican," she told @ This Stage Magazine, "I sound somewhat American. [But] I'm a bit more abrasive for a Zimbabwean woman. I don't meld fully."

2. She's a Psychology graduate.

After graduating from high school in Zimbabwe, Gurira returned to the US to study at Macalester College in Minnesota, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. But while studying in South Africa, she realized that Psychology wasn't for her.

"I was a junior in college in Capetown I was sitting there. I sat in this beautiful campus and had to face the fact that psychology was not my calling," she recalled to @ This Stage Magazine. "How do you affect change? It crystallized. My whole trajectory was about pursuing that desire."

Since then, Gurira focused on her passion for writing and acting. She later earned a Master of Fine Arts in acting from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

3. She's an award-winning playwright.


(Photo : Getty Images/Stephen Lovekin)

 

The two-woman play "In The Continuum," which Gurira co-wrote and co-starred in while still studying in NYU, earned her an Obie Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Helen Hayes Award for Best Lead Actress.

Her play "Eclipsed" also gained major accolades including Best New Play at the 2010 Helen Hayes Awards and Best Playwright at the 2010 NAACP Theater Awards.

Gurira's another play, "The Convert," is also the winner of the 2011 Stavis Award and Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.

4. She's the president of Almasi Arts Alliance.

The non-profit organization, whose mission is to create and facilitate collaborations between African and American artists, was co-founded by Gurira in 2011. And in an interview with Us Weekly just last month, she briefly talked why it's significant for her to bring African and American artists and creative institutions together.

"It's very important to me because I'm Zimbabwean and American," she explained. "Going back to Zimbabwe every year, I see a lot of talented artists -- directors, writers, actors, playwrights -- who don't have access to training and opportunities, and this bridges that gap."

5. Her Zimbabwean friends call her "Megaphone."


(Photo : Getty Images/Frazer Harrison)

 

Gurira told Us Weekly that she got that moniker, because she has "a very loud speaking voice."

And unlike her "The Walking Dead" alter ego, she's pretty talkative, too. "I'm extremely verbal. I talk," Gurira admitted in an interview with AMC. "But I get it. I loved not having to talk for awhile. I think Michonne was probably a little bit more of a talker before the apocalypse."

6. She's a fan of fitness trainer Jillian Michaels.  

In an interview with Self magazine this past February, she revealed that she keeps a mat, dumbbells and Jillian Michaels workout DVDs in her trailer, so she can do some exercise during unexpected downtime on-set.

"[Jillian's] workouts make me feel stronger and faster, and they give me more endurance," Gurira said, "Jillian and Michonne would be a fantastic team. They'd definitely be on the same side!"

7. She used to compete in swimming competitions.

 "I used to compete as a kid and hated to lose," she told Us Weekly.

She also revealed to Self magazine that she usually hits the pool, where she swims freestyle and breaststroke laps, whenever she has a little more free time and wants to feel more "open and loose."

8. She's a dog lover.

Gurira's first pet dog was a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix named Ace. She told Us Weekly that Ace "loved to chase cars -- and thus her demise."

Her new dog is named Papi. See some photos of Papi below:


(Photo : Twitter/Danai Gurira)


(Photo : Twitter/Danai Gurira)

 

9. She doesn't watch horror movies.

"I'm a scaredy-cat, honestly. I don't watch scary things," she told The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine in 2012.

10. She loves "Breaking Bad."


(Photo : Getty Images/Imeh Akpanudosen)

 

"My dad's a chemistry professor and Walter White [Bryan Cranston] reminded me of him, minus the bad bits," Gurira told Us Weekly.

Are you a fan of Gurira? Let us know what you like best about her in the comments section below!

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