Americanah joins the growing list of shows that have been axed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira‘s TV series adaptation of the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie novel is no longer moving forward at HBO Max after COVID-19 production delays led to scheduling conflicts for star and executive producer Nyong’o, who was forced to drop out of the series.
Variety broke the news that the Americanah TV series is no longer moving forward at HBO Max after Nyong’o was forced to exit the series due to scheduling conflicts brought on by COVID-19 delays.
The series had originally received a 10-episode straight-to-series order by HBO Max as part of its growing Max Original line-up — one of the streamer’s many high profile projects buoyed by Black Panther co-stars Nyong’o and Gurira’s involvement as executive producers. Nyong’o was set to star while Gurira was set to write and serve as showrunner. Along with Nyong’o, the series was set to star Uzo Aduba, Corey Hawkins, Zackary Momoh, and Tireni Oyenusi.
Here was the logline for Americanah:
It tells the story of Ifemelu (Nyong’o), a young, beautiful, self-assured woman raised in Nigeria, who as a teenager falls in love with her classmate Obinze (Momoh). Living in a military-ruled country, they each depart for the west, with Ifemelu heading for America, where, despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple for the first time with what it means to be black. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous undocumented life in London.
Americanah was a longtime passion project for Nyong’o, who had previously planned to adapt Adichie’s novel into a film in which she would star alongside David Oyelowo. The project turned into a series in 2018, and was picked up by HBO Max last year. Things were going swimmingly for the project, with shooting planned to begin in early 2020, until the coronavirus pandemic hit. Production dates were pushed back until it was untenable for Nyong’o to stay on board due to conflicts with other projects on her schedule.
Americanah is just the latest casualty of the pandemic. Netflix has canned shows like The Society, I Am Not Okay With This, and GLOW. Showtime also canceled the acclaimed Kirsten Dunst-led On Becoming a God in Central Florida just before its second season. While shows — both beloved and less so — around the board have been getting the axe, curiously, a majority of the canceled series have been led by women or people of color. While Americanah is a case of an unavailable star, its cancelation unfortunately does add to that pattern.
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