I Met Danai Gurira — And She Gave Me Career Advice

I'm still shaking.


By Michelle October |

Danai Gurira was in Joburg for the Global Citizen Festival. In partnership with Johnson & Johnson, Danai’s been advocating for awareness around HIV (at the festival, she announced that J&J are trialling a vaccine) and the way it affects women. I got to sit down with her about her work, and she dropped some serious gems about careers.

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Danai Gurira at the Johnson & Johnson Live Healthy Live Well experience

One of the things people probably don’t know about Danai is that she’s not just an actress. The 40-year-old powerhouse inspired us all when she played Okoye in Black Panther and Michonne in The Walking Dead. But she’s also a playwright and penned In The Continuum, an award-winning play about women living with HIV.

READ MORE: Huge News: Johnson & Johnson Is Trialling An HIV Vaccine

The idea of career amorphousness isn’t new anymore, but I wondered what Danai’s take on being a highly accomplished multi-hyphenate is. What she had to say really resonated with me. “I generally rarely use the word ‘career’ and instead I tend to use the phrase ‘life work’. And it’s because I don’t quite know what career means,” she said. “To me, it’s really about following your purpose and calling. And it’s about following what you’re passionate about and how you can contribute to the world you’ve inherited. And so that’s where I’ve always come from in terms of how and where I get involved with what.”

READ MORE: 4 Self-Help Reads That’ll Actually Change Your Life

What Danai is passionate about is raising the profile of women and girls in Africa, which is why she created informational awareness hub Love Our Girls. “We don’t know enough about each other and I think there’s so much strength to garner from an awareness of what odds others have beaten but I think sometimes we get cut off from that information about each other,” she says. “We don’t know the great things women in Malawi have done, or in South Africa or Kenya. We don’t have that connection to understanding that whatever we’re facing. I’ve found that that is something that is so crucial that is actually getting inspired by ourselves. Women should know about women. The more we get the word out about each other the more we can exact our greatness.”

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