David Oyelowo will star opposite Nyong'o in Americanah, his rep confirmed to BuzzFeed News. The story follows a young couple, Ifemelu (Nyong'o) and Obinze (Oyelowo), who meet and fall in love in Nigeria. However, the country is under a dictatorship and both flee, she to the United States, he to the United Kingdom. Obinze is unable to join Ifemelu due to immigration issues and their love faces the subsequent consequences. The casting news was first reported by Variety.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Lupita Nyong'o had joined the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. And now, the Oscar-winning actress is taking on another very different project as producer and star of Americanah, the feature film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's critically acclaimed novel about a young Nigerian woman who emigrates to America for a university education.
"It is such an honor to have the opportunity to bring Ms. Adichie's brilliant book to the screen," Nyong'o said in a statement. "Page after page I was struck by Ifemelu and Obinze's stories, whose experiences as African immigrants are so specific and also so imminently relatable. It is a thrilling challenge to tell a truly international story so full of love, humor and heart."
This marks an important career move for Nyong'o, as many black female Oscar winners and nominees that have preceded her have found difficulty flourishing on film after their wins. They've either since turned to television, like Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer who will star next season in ABC's How To Get Away With Murder and Fox's Red Band Society, respectively, or failed to match the successes of their Oscar-winning roles. Mo'Nique, who won an Academy Award for Precious in 2010, has yet to star in an acclaimed film since.
Nyong'o is surely aware of these pitfalls, making very strategic next steps since her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years A Slave earlier this year, particularly by taking control of Americanah behind the camera as well.