Monday December 17 4:25 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Award-Winning Actor and Playwright Danai Gurira to be Honored at the 10th Anniversary Steppenwolf Women in the Arts Luncheon

12/10/2018 - 12:00
12/10/2018 - 14:00
Danai Gurira.jpg

Danai Gurira is acknowledged as one of today’s freshest voices for the stage as the playwright of critically acclaimed In the Continuum, Eclipsed, The Convert and Familiar. These plays have garnered Danai multiple awards including an OBIE Award, two Helen Hayes Awards, and an NAACP Award, in addition to a Tony nomination for best play (Eclipsed). Steppenwolf is proud to be producing the Chicago premiere of Familiar this fall.

Best known for her roles of Michonne on AMC’s The Walking Dead, one of television’s most watched programs, and Okoye in Marvel’s Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, Danai’s inspired performances have captured the attention of audiences worldwide. Upcoming projects include Gurira adapting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Americanah into a miniseries, and her play The Convert will be staged at the Young Vic theatre in London in December.

This year, Steppenwolf is proud to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Women in the Arts. This luncheon began as a way to bring together Chicago’s business and civic communities in celebration of innovators across the performing arts. By lifting up these voices, we explore their unique careers in a personal and intimate way. Previous honorees include ensemble members Joan Allen, Laurie Metcalf and Martha Plimpton, along with Claire Danes, Juliette Lewis, Julianna Margulies, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, Mary-Louise Parker, Sarah Paulson and Phylicia Rashad.

Since its inception, the luncheon has raised over $1.3 million for Steppenwolf’s professional development programs, including Steppenwolf for Young Adults, the nationally recognized education program, the School at Steppenwolf, as well as the Professional Leadership Programs, providing apprenticeships, fellowships and internships for the next generation of arts managers and producers.

Individual tickets start at $300. Tickets that include pre-lunch photo opportunity with Danai Gurira begin at $500. Table sponsorships for Women in the Arts are currently available at $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000. To purchase tickets or learn about table sponsorship opportunities, contact Steppenwolf’s Special Events Department at 312-654-5632 or

Co-chairs of the 10th Anniversary Women in the Arts luncheon are Stephanie B Smith and Helen Zell. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline Partner of Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

About the Honoree
Danai Gurira is an award-winning playwright and actress. As a playwright, her works include In the Continuum (OBIE Award, Outer Critics Award, Helen Hayes Award), Eclipsed (Tony Award Nomination: Best Play; NAACP Award; Helen Hayes Award: Best New Play; Connecticut Critics Circle Award: Outstanding Production of a Play), and The Convert (six Ovation Awards, Los Angeles Outer Critics Award). Her newest play, Familiar, received its world premiere at Yale Rep in 2015, and premiered in New York at Playwrights Horizons in February of 2016. She is a recipient of the Sam Norkin Award at the 2016 Drama Desk Awards, a Whiting Award, a Hodder Fellow, and has been commissioned by Yale Rep, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons, and the Royal Court.

As an actor, Gurira was most recently seen in Marvel’s blockbuster phenomenon Black Panther as “General Okoye” and reprised the role in another blockbuster sensation Avengers: Infinity War in April 2018. Gurira currently starts as “Michonne” on AMC’s The Walking Dead (NAACP Image Award nomination). Other select acting credits include the films All Eyez on Me (NAACP Image Award nomination), The Visitor, Mother of George and the NYS&F’s Measure for Measure (Equity Callaway Award.) Gurira is currently adapting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Americanah into a miniseries.

Born in the US to Zimbabwean parents and raised in Zimbabwe, she holds an M.F.A. from Tisch, NYU and serves as an ambassador for Bono’s ONE campaign. She is also the founder of, an awareness-building campaign focused on the plights of women and girls around the globe; and the co-founder of Almasi Arts, which works to give access and opportunity to the African Dramatic Artist. Twitter/Instagram: @danaigurira. Facebook: @DanaiGuriraOfficial.

Anna D. Shapiro joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 2005 and was awarded the 2008 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for August: Osage County (Steppenwolf, Broadway, London). She was nominated in 2011 in the same category for The Motherf**ker with the Hat (Public Theatre, Labyrinth Theater). Other directing credits at Steppenwolf include Tracy Letts’s world premiere of The Minutes, Visiting Edna, Mary Page Marlowe, Three Sisters, A Parallelogram, Up, The Crucible, The Unmentionables (also at Yale Repertory Theatre), The Pain and the Itch (also in New York), I Never Sang for My Father, Man from Nebraska, Purple Heart (also in Galway, Ireland), The Drawer Boy, Side Man (also in Ireland, Australia and Vail, Colorado), Three Days of Rain, The Infidel and This is Our Youth (which transferred to Broadway). Other Broadway credits include Straight White Men (with Josh Charles and Armie Hammer), Of Mice and Men (with James Franco) and Fish in the Dark (with Larry David). Off-Broadway credits include Domesticated (Lincoln Center). Anna is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Columbia. She was appointed Steppenwolf’s Artistic Director in 2015 and is a professor in Northwestern University’s Department of Theatre.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programming includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Steppenwolf Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit,, and