Black Panther General Danai Gurira on Richard III, Toxic Masculinity and Surprise Guest Stars in Central Park

Before Danai Gurira returns this fall as the Wakandan general Okoye in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” she’s scheming and murdering her way onto the English throne in director Robert O’Hara’s new production of “Richard III” at the Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park. Here are three things to know about “The Walking Dead” star’s latest endeavors.

Her “Richard III” is all about toxic masculinity.

“We’ve always been around toxic masculinity, but I think there are ways that we’re labeling and seeing it now,” says Gurira. “There are these ongoing issues in how our nations are led and in how our politics function and in how toxic masculinity finds its way through society, and I hope it illuminates things when it’s coming through my being.”

She adds: “It’s been interesting to get an understanding of how much privilege comes with it. Women can’t express rage without often being punished for it, whereas for men it’s a sign of strength and power when they’re allowed to live in that rageful place. At one point during rehearsals I realized, ‘Oh, I get it. Richard’s having fun with being able to unhinge like that and get away with it.’”

She’s got a number of a projects in development. Just don’t ask about Wakanda or “The Walking Dead.”

Gurira can reveal precisely nothing about her upcoming role in “Wakanda Forever” or about her part in the untitled Wakanda series for Disney+. She keeps similarly mum on her potential involvement in future iterations of “The Walking Dead.”

Meanwhile, as a writer and a producer, she’s at work developing projects with ABC Signature. She’s long made it her mission to tell the stories of African women. “My focus has never shifted,” she says.

Sometimes “Richard III” features surprise guest stars.

“There are so many more raccoons than last time!” laughs the actor, whose last stage gig was the 2011 Shakespeare in the Park production of “Measure for Measure.” “There are ducks behind us and bullfrogs mating in the bushes. We’re all in it together.”

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