Today the May 2019 cover of Shape magazine was revealed, featuring Danai! In the issue, she talks about training for her roles in The Walking Dead, Black Panther, and the Avengers movies.

When Danai Gurira wants to clear her head, she hands her phone to her trainer and launches into a 90-minute workout. “It takes me away from whatever else is going on,” says the actor, award-winning playwright, and social activist. “All the things pulling at me out in the world are put on pause. My trainer uses my phone to track my heart rate. So I don’t have access to anything except what we’re doing.”
Taking time out to focus is especially important these days because Danai, 41, is one very busy woman. In the last year she has starred as the fierce Okoye in not one but two movies—Black Panther, the award-winning superhero film that broke box office records, and Avengers: Infinity War—and portrayed the zombie-killing Michonne on the hit TV show The Walking Dead. (Her co-star Lauren Cohan has graced the cover of Shape before too.) Next up for Danai: a role in the hotly anticipated Avengers: Endgame, which hits theaters April 26.
Then there’s all the advocacy work she does. Danai, who was recently named a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, also founded and leads Love Our Girls, an organization with a mission to bring awareness and support to issues affecting women and girls worldwide. In truth, this part of her life is therapeutic, says Danai, who was born in Iowa and grew up in Zimbabwe. “I consider everything I do that involves any degree of advocacy or service to be self-care,” she says. “Stepping out of myself to help others is also a way of taking care of my soul, quite honestly. I don’t feel good about who I am if I’m not connected to a larger issue.”

You can read the full article and watch a behind the scenes video of her shoot over at Shape.com!

Danai Gurira

By HEIDI PARKER

Zimbabwean-American actor Danai Gurira has made a name for herself with the TV series The Walking Dead and the movie Black Panther. And now she has landed a role in the highly anticipated Avengers: End Game.

To celebrate, the 41-year-old actress has showed off her toned figure on the May cover of Shape magazine.

And the star attributes her good looks to eating right: “Five years ago, I made the decision to eat cleaner. I try to avoid dairy, I eat mainly fish, and I have a lot of vegetables. It doesn’t make sense as a meal to me if there is no green on my plate. Eating this way truly made me feel better, and so I’ve stuck with it.”

Gurira also told the monthly magazine that working out has not only kept her body looking shapely, but has also helped her do her job as she often is asked to do difficult stunts.

“For me, the coolest thing is when you feel the work pay off,” said the looker who was born in Iowa, but grew up in Zimbabwe.

“You exercise a lot, and you’re doing your job, shooting long hours. And then you go to work one day, and you have to do something physical…and your body just knows how to do it.

“That happened for me in The Walking Dead and Black Panther.

“I thought, Oh, my God, I did that, and it was not difficult. And I knew that my body was getting smarter as I was devoting hours to its upkeep. It delivered at the moments when I needed it to.”

She also knows how to do self-care.

“I aim to do something in the realm of meditation and prayer every day,” said the college graduate.

“That’s crucial. It’s about having a spiritual relationship and total well-being and really being a person who cares about things far beyond herself.

“If I get too caught up in myself and my little life, it can become a much smaller world. I want to have an aware-ness, a concern, and a service toward the larger world.”

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique — such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity — to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.

According to yogajournal.com it takes only 10 minutes a day of meditation to feel much fresher.

And she also said women can be more daring.

“I believe women should be able to play roles that are messy and contradictory and complicated and not always likable, just as men have.

“To me, that’s equality. But we can’t overcorrect and make all female characters strong and perfect. Because that is also limiting and restricting. Women should be able to portray the full gamut of human experience. There’s a lot of power in complexity.”

She was recently she was named a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, also founded and leads Love Our Girls, an organisation with a mission to bring awareness and support to issues affecting women and girls worldwide.

On speaking up for those who can’t she said, ‘It was Valentine’s Day, which is also my birthday, and I thought, If we were to love women and girls in this world more, surely the issues of inequality would steeply diminish or disappear.

“And that’s basically the premise of Love Our Girls. On the 14th of every month we send a newsletter that features women, girls, and organisations around the world that are doing amazing things, but don’t get enough attention.

“To join our efforts, go to logpledge.org and take the pledge. We’ll give you the tools to become involved. It’s a way of giving girls and women, whether they’re in Congo or Brooklyn, more opportunity.” — Mailonline

Danai Gurira is the latest cover star for Shape magazine’s latest issue and her body is serious #goals.

Danai, who was born in Iowa and grew up in Zimbabwe, talks to the magazine about founding an organization with a mission to bring awareness and support to issues affecting women and girls worldwide.

She says, “I consider everything I do that involves any degree of advocacy or service to be self-care. Stepping out of myself to help others is also a way of taking care of my soul, quite honestly. I don’t feel good about who I am if I’m not connected to a larger issue.”

If you love Danai’s body as much as we do, then these tips might help you.

On her exercise regimen, she says:

For the last three years, I’ve worked out with my trainer, A.J. Fisher, three or four times a week. I started working with her when I got the role of Okoye. I was about to go into pre-production, and I felt like I needed to amp up my fitness and endurance. I call her the MacGyver of trainers because she can create an elaborate course in your living room with just a coffee table and a couple of resistance bands. She mixes things up—it’s never the same workout, so your body can’t get used to it. She uses methods I was already connected to, like the Alexander technique, yoga, and Pilates, and incorporates them into a very rigorous workout that enables me to strengthen and become more holistically stronger. For me, the coolest thing is when you feel the work pay off. You exercise a lot, and you’re doing your job, shooting long hours. And then you go to work one day, and you have to do something physical…and your body just knows how to do it. That happened for me in The Walking Dead and Black Panther. I thought, Oh, my God, I did that, and it was not difficult. And I knew that my body was getting smarter as I was devoting hours to its upkeep. It delivered at the moments when I needed it to.

On eating clean, she says:

Five years ago, I made the decision to eat cleaner. I try to avoid dairy, I eat mainly fish, and I have a lot of vegetables. It doesn’t make sense as a meal to me if there is no green on my plate. Eating this way truly made me feel better, and so I’ve stuck with it. I’m not a zealot about it, though. I really love fries, and I have them when I want to treat myself. Sometimes when I’m on a plane, I’ll eat a little something I don’t normally have because I’m like, Eh, I’m in the air, so it doesn’t count. It’s all about moderation.

Read the full feature here.

Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

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Born as Danai Jekesai Gurira in the year 1978, on 14 th February, Danai Gurira is an actress as well as a dramatist, most well-known for her performance as the character, Michonne in the horror-drama, The Walking Dead series, on AMC television, as well as the screenwriter of the play, Eclipsed, in addition to playing the character, Okoye, from the MCU, segment, Black Panther, as well as a recurring role in the Avengers: Infinity War movie. Born in the city of Grinnell, Iowa, United States of America, Danai Gurira is of Zimbabwean-American ethnicity and is born to parents Josephine Gurira, who is a librarian in a college, and Roger Gurira, who works at the Grinnell College, as a Chemistry department lecturer. Both Danai Gurira’s parents, then later shifted to the University of Wisconsin, at Platteville. Danai Gurira’s parents had migrated to the United States of America, even before she was born and before Zimbabwe was called as Southern Rhodesia, back in the year 1964.

Danai Gurira was born and grew up among three other siblings, named sisters, Shingai and Choni and brother Tare, who is a chiropractor. Danai Gurira is the youngest child of the family. It was up till the year 1983, during the month of December, Danai Gurira stayed in Grinnell, after which, when Danai Gurira was five-years-old, she along with her family, relocated to Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, post the nation’s independence. As part of her education, Danai Gurira attended the Dominican Convent High School, a post which, Danai Gurira came back to the United States of America, where she enrolled in the Macalester College, at Saint Paul, Minnesota, wherein, she did her under graduation in psychology. Later on, Danai Gurira pursued a post-graduation in Fine Arts in acting, at the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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How Danai Gurira Trained for Some of Her Most Iconic, Badass Roles

When Danai Gurira wants to clear her head, she hands her phone to her trainer and launches into a 90-minute workout. “It takes me away from whatever else is going on,” says the actor, award-winning playwright, and social activist. “All the things pulling at me out in the world are put on pause. My trainer uses my phone to track my heart rate. So I don’t have access to anything except what we’re doing.”

Taking time out to focus is especially important these days because Danai, 41, is one very busy woman. In the last year she has starred as the fierce Okoye in not one but two movies-Black Panther, the award-winning superhero film that broke box office records, and Avengers: Infinity War-and portrayed the zombie-killing Michonne on the hit TV show The Walking Dead. (Her co-star Lauren Cohan has graced the cover of Shape before too.) Next up for Danai: a role in the hotly anticipated Avengers: Endgame, which hits theaters April 26.

Then there’s all the advocacy work she does. Danai, who was recently named a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, also founded and leads Love Our Girls, an organization with a mission to bring awareness and support to issues affecting women and girls worldwide. In truth, this part of her life is therapeutic, says Danai, who was born in Iowa and grew up in Zimbabwe. “I consider everything I do that involves any degree of advocacy or service to be self-care,” she says. “Stepping out of myself to help others is also a way of taking care of my soul, quite honestly. I don’t feel good about who I am if I’m not connected to a larger issue.”

As her inspiring list of professional and personal projects grows, these strategies keep Danai inspired, happy, and strong.

Image zoom

Photos: James Macari

Put In the Work-and It Will Pay Off

“For the last three years, I’ve worked out with my trainer, A.J. Fisher, three or four times a week. I started working with her when I got the role of Okoye. I was about to go into pre-production, and I felt like I needed to amp up my fitness and endurance. I call her the MacGyver of trainers because she can create an elaborate course in your living room with just a coffee table and a couple of resistance bands. She mixes things up-it’s never the same workout, so your body can’t get used to it. She uses methods I was already connected to, like the Alexander technique, yoga, and Pilates, and incorporates them into a very rigorous workout that enables me to strengthen and become more holistically stronger.

“For me, the coolest thing is when you feel the work pay off. You exercise a lot, and you’re doing your job, shooting long hours. And then you go to work one day, and you have to do something physical…and your body just knows how to do it. That happened for me in The Walking Dead and Black Panther. I thought, Oh, my God, I did that, and it was not difficult. And I knew that my body was getting smarter as I was devoting hours to its upkeep. It delivered at the moments when I needed it to.” (Related: How Lupita Nyong’o Got In Shape for “Black Panther”)

Eat What Genuinely Makes You Feel Good

“Five years ago, I made the decision to eat cleaner. I try to avoid dairy, I eat mainly fish, and I have a lot of vegetables. It doesn’t make sense as a meal to me if there is no green on my plate. Eating this way truly made me feel better, and so I’ve stuck with it. I’m not a zealot about it, though. I really love fries, and I have them when I want to treat myself. Sometimes when I’m on a plane, I’ll eat a little something I don’t normally have because I’m like, Eh, I’m in the air, so it doesn’t count. It’s all about moderation.” (Related: Plant-Based Diet Recipes for Every Meal of the Day)

Image zoom

Break Out of Your Bubble

“I aim to do something in the realm of meditation and prayer every day. That’s crucial. It’s about having a spiritual relationship and total well-being and really being a person who cares about things far beyond herself. If I get too caught up in myself and my little life, it can become a much smaller world. I want to have an awareness, a concern, and a service toward the larger world.” (Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation)

Aim for Messy, Not Perfect

“I have had the good fortune of being able to portray characters like the leader of an army or a woman with a big samurai sword that she uses very well. And I thoroughly enjoy that. I believe women should be able to play roles that are messy and contradictory and complicated and not always likable, just as men have. To me, that’s equality. But we can’t overcorrect and make all female characters strong and perfect. Because that is also limiting and restricting. Women should be able to portray the full gamut of human experience. There’s a lot of power in complexity.”

Image zoom

Speak Up for Those Who Can’t

“I started Love Our Girls three years ago, around the time my play Eclipsed went to Broadway. The play, which takes place in a war zone in Liberia, gives a voice to girls and women in captivity. It’s an issue we don’t hear much about, and I realized it was the moment to create a platform for it. It was Valentine’s Day, which is also my birthday, and I thought, If we were to love women and girls in this world more, surely the issues of inequality would steeply diminish or disappear. And that’s basically the premise of Love Our Girls. On the 14th of every month we send a newsletter that features women, girls, and organizations around the world that are doing amazing things but don’t get enough attention. To join our efforts, go to logpledge.org and take the pledge. We’ll give you the tools to become involved. It’s a way of giving girls and women, whether they’re in Congo or Brooklyn, more opportunity.”

  • By By Pam O’Brien

Danai Gurira is being deluged with congratulatory messages when she arrives on a Saturday in late April for The Hollywood Reporter’s annual TV Drama Actress Roundtable. Two nights prior, her latest Marvel film, Avengers: Endgame, rolled into theaters to thunderous results. By Monday, the 41-year-old actress, known to TV fans as Michonne of AMC’s The Walking Dead, will be basking in an opening-weekend haul that exceeds $350 million.

Gurira is hardly the only one with something to celebrate, of course. Christine Baranski, 67, is hot off a fourth-season renewal for her CBS All Access series, The Good Fight, and Emilia Clarke, 32, is watching her HBO series, Game of Thrones, unspool its eighth and final season to record ratings. Meanwhile, Patricia Arquette, 51, has just put in her second award-worthy performance of the season with Hulu’s The Act, which follows Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora (for which she’s already won a Golden Globe), and Michelle Williams is shaking things up on Capitol Hill, where the 38-year-old Fosse/Verdon actress’ impassioned plea for pay equality went viral. Rounding out the sextet gathered at Hollywood’s Line 204 Studios is Niecy Nash, 49, whose forthcoming Central Park Five miniseries for Netflix, When They See Us, is already garnering major Emmy buzz.

During the course of an hour, these six stars will show their range — exploring everything from the politics of sex scenes to the parts they’re increasingly unwilling to play.

Let’s start easy. Complete this sentence: I knew I’d made it in Hollywood when …

NIECY NASH Somebody once told me, “You’ll know you made it when you become a Halloween costume,” and then I became one.

DANAI GURIRA The Halloween costume was definitely a “What the heck?” moment for me, too. Then it’s the stuff you end up having to sign. Like, now you’re a Christmas ornament. That’s my face on this thing you hang on your tree? OK, I’ll sign that. (Laughter.)

EMILIA CLARKE I was at a gala event where I’d been asked to auction something, so I was like, “I don’t know, come watch your favorite episode with me and we’ll eat a horse’s heart or something.” I don’t think about what it is until I get there and then I’m sitting in a room with, like, every celebrity on the planet. And I thought it would be a private thing where they wouldn’t say out loud, but then I have to stand up and it turns into a thing. The room goes completely silent and I’m going to die and then one of my friends puts his paddle up. Suddenly, some other people start to put their paddles up and one of those people was Brad Pitt.

ALL Oooooh!

PATRICIA ARQUETTE I was there, and there was a lot of back-and-forth.

CLARKE It was the most ridiculous experience of my entire existence.

ARQUETTE After I did True Romance, I got a message from Bruce Willis. I call back, like, “Shut up, who is this really?” I thought my friend was pranking me. And he’s like, “This is Bruce Willis.” It was surreal. Like, is this how this world works? Do people just call you?

MICHELLE WILLIAMS Mine’s more of a New York moment: when you stop debating the $2.50 for the subway versus the $20 for the cab and you don’t have a whole involved thought process with yourself about if you can or if you should. So, yeah, the moment where I was like, “Oh, I didn’t even think about it, I was just like, ‘Taxi!’ ” (Laughs.)

How would you describe the current phase of your career vis-a-vis the roles coming in? Patricia, I believe you’ve called this your year of complicated women …

ARQUETTE And I didn’t see that coming because I’d always seen women be retired by the business at a certain point. I’m lucky to be coming to this age at a time where people are wanting to produce more material and different kinds of content.

Did you have any hesitation about embracing such dark roles?

ARQUETTE I encountered a little pushback . I was lucky enough to have success when I was young, and a lot of that was being an ingenue. And then as I was getting older, there was still this pressure to look a certain way. I had an argument with one of the producers on Medium, who told me I should lose weight. I was like, “This lady is a mother, she’s married, she’s got three kids. No.” But there’s that expectation of being beautiful, of looking a certain way. Like, “OK, you could be 40, but you’ve got to be a 40 who looks 30.” So, when I started to work on Escape at Dannemora and then again with The Act, I definitely felt some pushback.

What were people scared of?

ARQUETTE That I’d lose work. And in fairness, they’ll have those conversations. “What does she look like now?” “Why don’t you send us a picture of what she looks like right now?”

ALL Ugh.

ARQUETTE I just said, “You know what? I’ve had a good run, but it’s always been a little bit of a box.” I never got to do character work, and I wanted to really go for this. It’s freeing, and I trust myself as an artist.

Danai, it would seem that you’re in the “major franchise” phase of your career. Is that fair?

GURIRA This is not how I ever imagined my life work would go. I’m a playwright, and I really just expected to stay in the indie play world and step into this area in very specific ways. The thing that drives me is telling stories and perspectives we rarely hear from. And we’ve still got work to do.

ARQUETTE We do. Like, I almost never see projects with the elderly, and there are a lot of stories to be told.

CHRISTINE BARANSKI And it shouldn’t just be people who are losing their minds or suffering; you know, movies about people with Alzheimer’s.

ARQUETTE Exactly.

BARANSKI I can speak to that. I just finished my 10th year playing the same character of Diane Lockhart, and for seven years I was No. 2, the supporting actress on The Good Wife. And I loved my role, she was the head of the law firm and the authority figure, and she was strong and dignified and well dressed. But with the spinoff, she’s now No. 1, and, honestly, I got the No. 1 position finally and I was in my 60s. It’s like, “All right.” (Laughter.) I like to say that there’s movement forward and these are the best years of my career. I get offered wonderful theater roles. I’m a leading lady after all this time. I was always sitting, waiting, “And the best supporting actress award goes to … somebody else.” And now I’m the in a show where I’m still this strong, authoritative, professional woman who’s well educated. And we’re seeing women like that in our culture who are now running for president and running the House of Representatives. Women this age are powerful, and I love that somehow in this moment I’m on a TV show that reflects that. It’s high time that women of such authority have real airtime. It’s long overdue.

What about the rest of you? Are there new types of characters coming your way?

NASH For me, it’s things that lend themselves to this category, the dramatic category. Because I spent the majority of my career in comedy. That was the whole bit, “You’re funny, that’s what we know you as, and that’s where you shall remain.” It took me many, many years to get someone to give me a chance, and then things started to change because of it.

I have heard you say that you set a meeting with your team to reintroduce yourself. What did that entail and how was it received?

NASH I called a team meeting and got everybody together and they were like, “What’s happening? Why are we here?” And I said, “I just wanted to reintroduce myself to you. Because in the years that we’ve been together, Mother has changed! Things are different. I don’t want today what I wanted back then. Back then, I was just hungry.” (Laughter.)

GURIRA Mm-hmm.

NASH I wanted to eat. And now the refrigerator is full, and we need some other things. I wanted them to see me like I saw me so that we can go on the path together and not have it feel like we were disconnected.

CLARKE I don’t have the guts to be like, “Yo, guys, this is the new me and I have something to say and it’s not what I said before,” but in the beginning, when it was, “Do you want to do this really big movie?” you’d be like, “Yeah, of course I do. Are you kidding?” Then you do lots of them and suddenly you’re like, “I went to drama school, I care about art, I care about working with auteurs, I care about inhabiting characters that have something to say.” And it takes a minute for those around you to go, “Oh, right, sorry, I thought you just wanted to eat.”

Are there ways in which you are still hoping to be seen?

GURIRA As a buddy cop. I’m kidding … but something goofy. I’ve been doing a lot of these characters who’ve been very “strong,” and that can have its own trap. The idea of, say, putting away strong altogether — like, I have no strength — would be interesting.

BARANSKI Michelle and I were both talking about how liberating it is to sing and dance. Liberating in a terrifying, wonderful way.

WILLIAMS You lose your self-consciousness because that part of your brain can’t be accessed while you’re singing and dancing. When I did Cabaret , I was singing and dancing, and as difficult as those things were, I noticed there was this joy inside of them and I thought, “That’s a place I really want to live more often.” So, when Gwen came up, I was like, “Perfect.”

You can all afford to be picky and say, “Nope, don’t want to do that” or “Don’t want to say that.” What falls into that category?

BARANSKI Don’t want to play a cranky old lady, don’t want to play a bitch — or a powerful woman who, because she’s powerful, is a bitch. You know, all the stereotypes about older women. Nope.

WILLIAMS I don’t want to travel for work. I’ve somehow managed to work out of New York for the past seven years. My daughter has stayed in the same school with the same friends, and that’s a super high priority for me.

NASH I don’t want to be a sassy black anything. I don’t want to be a sassy black mama, a sassy black neighbor or a sassy black friend. There are so many more notes to be played. And listen, broken is a delicious note to play on camera.

ALL Mmm-hmm.

NASH The mother that I play in When They See Us is just white-knuckling it and doing the best she can. She wasn’t a sassy anything, and it was absolutely delicious to find her pain and her brokenness. In some places it overlapped with mine, and that’s when you get in that scene — and y’all have experienced it — when them tears start flowing and they ain’t because of the script.

CLARKE One thing I would not like to do is something that would have a sequel. Something that could have, like, “And then two and then three and then four.” I’d like to not do one of those for a minute. (Laughs.)

One of the things you famously did not want to do was …

CLARKE Oh, God …

… Fifty Shades of Grey. How much of that decision was about a fear of being pigeonholed?

CLARKE Well, Sam is a magician. I love her, and I thought her vision was beautiful. But the last time that I was naked on camera on was a long time ago, and yet it is the only question that I ever get asked because I am a woman. And it’s annoying as hell and I’m sick and tired of it because I did it for the character — I didn’t do it so some guy could check out my tits, for God’s sake. So, that coming up, I was like, “I can’t.” I did a minimal amount and I’m pigeonholed for life, so me saying yes to that, where the entire thing is about sensuality and sex and being naked and all of that stuff, I was just like, “No way am I going to voluntarily walk into that situation and then never be able to look someone in the eye and be like, ‘No, you can’t keep asking me this question.’ “

NASH I had a situation that was a bit of the reverse, and it was only partial things that I had to show. I’m not a size 2, and I was like, “I’m going to go for it for the thick girl out there who needs to see herself represented having sex on her own accord and owning her own body and not just showing up for the pleasure of a man.” So, I was like, “Oh, Lord, let me take a water pill, let me think thin and let me get out there.”

CLARKE Because it’s scary.

NASH Yeah, and after I go through all this, I see the edit, and they just completely took it out. I was like, not so much from a vanity standpoint but just for my emotional piece of mind, “Why’d you make me go through all of that to not use it?” Because I’m at the point in my life now where if I do it, you better put it out there. (Laughter.)

CLARKE Damn straight.

GURIRA When I started to do TV, I was in my 30s, so I got kind of stuck in my ways, in a sense. And I had to know I could wake up in the morning and feel good about what I’d done the day before. I remember having an argument with the director because I was like, “I know you have it written here like this, but this is what you’re getting.” And I wrote it on the script and I handed it to him.

ARQUETTE A love scene?

GURIRA Yeah. I was like, “I’m serious, it’s not happening,” and I had to really get him there. He’s an awesome guy, but he had to adjust his mind around the fact that this was where I was going. And I realized that this is what we have to do as women. We actually have to get the minds of folks there sometimes, that, “I know what your vision is, but I will tell the story for her without that happening.”

CLARKE Is it like, they pull it down (pantomimes pulling down her dress), you pull it up, they pull it down, you pull it up …

Christine, when you were filming the pilot of The Good Fight, it was assumed Hillary Clinton would be our next president …

BARANSKI One of the first scenes was me in the boardroom in a fabulous suit saying, “There are no more glass ceilings to break and I’m retiring, gentlemen.” Then we were filming on election night, and the camera was turning around on my close-ups when I checked the phone to find out who the assumed winner of the election was. … So, we changed the pilot considerably.

And with it, the show at large.

BARANSKI Yes. The first scene of the pilot is me looking at the TV set like this (her jaw drops) as I’m watching the inauguration of Donald Trump. It’s provided fertile ground for a woman who’s a passionate, liberal feminist of a certain age who was a Hillary supporter to be the leading lady in a show where now she’s a Trump resister. The story is a lot about her inability to process what’s going on in the country and what’s happening to women, so provided a lot of dramatic raw material, as harrowing as it has been for us all.

What kind of emotional toll does that take on you?

BARANSKI Cable news is research for me, and I have to keep my sense of outrage, which isn’t hard.

But is there a release? And if so, what does it look like for you?

BARANSKI It’s called a vacation, and in two weeks I’m taking it. I’m not looking at the news. (Laughs.)

NASH When you talk about taking things home, I did the story of the Central Park Five, and this is the first time I’ve ever done a project where they provided crisis counselors.

CLARKE Wow.

NASH At the end of the day, there was a number you could call and somebody could talk to you because the material was so heavy. And there were often times that the real boys — if you don’t know , they’d been accused of raping a woman in Central Park but they were all babies and they got convicted for something they didn’t do — would be on set because it’s their story being told. I’d get off that set and be like, “I’m not going to make it. Bring the funny back!” But you feel so driven to tell the story, so you muscle through because that has to be more important than how you feel.

Patricia, you shot Escape at Dannemora in actual prisons, surrounded by people who were living this life. How did that inform your performance and impact you?

ARQUETTE It was very intense to feel that energy and see all the dynamics. The lack of mental illness support, the alliances that are made, how dangerous it is for everyone involved to be in there and how hopeless it all is. And then there was me gaining weight for the part and wanting her to look a certain way and feeling that that was the right choice to make but then going into the world and seeing people’s reactions. It’s like a science experiment of how your value changes in people’s eyes.

How were you received differently?

ARQUETTE People would look at you like, “Oh, I used to love you. Are you still acting?”

BARANSKI Oh, my gosh.

ARQUETTE But more than that was that people perceived me as an invisible person. Like, they would just get in front of you in line or you’d be standing there at the counter, waiting for a long time, and nobody would come to help you. Like, “Oh, you’re just kind of a matronly, dumpy, middle-aged lady, so you don’t exist in the world.” And what Niecy was saying about showing up for the thick girls and doing this love scene, I really wanted to do that for Escape at Dannemora. And I’m uptight. I take baths in the dark. I changed behind a chair as a little girl. But I really wanted to do these love scenes. Like, I’m going to gain a bunch of weight and my boobs are going to be giant, and my stomach. And this is the first love scene where, no, I’m not wearing any body makeup and I don’t care that it’s high def. And, yeah, it’s all a nightmare, but I really wanted to , “Who’s allowed to be sexual now in this culture? What body type do we have to have?”

Michelle, in the creation of Fosse/Verdon, Gwen Verdon’s role became a much bigger piece of the story. Why was that, and what did her initial absence signify?

WILLIAMS When the project was initially developed, it was just about him. That was about two years ago, and maybe a year into developing it , they realized they actually wanted to tell both of their stories, which was after meeting their daughter, Nicole Fosse, who said she would be involved in it. But it’s a lot of what we’re talking about: Gwen had aged out. She was primarily a dancer, and they say a dancer dies two deaths: when you actually die and the day that you can’t dance the way that you used to be able to. So, she’d had that creative death and was written out of the story, and the show attempts to rectify that.

Emilia and Danai, you’re on shows where every episode could ostensibly be your character’s last. How much do you know, plot-wise?

Do you pepper them with questions about where the plot is headed?

CLARKE They really don’t give anything away, and I don’t like to live in anything other than the season I’m in … but we have lots of conversations. And they very quickly started to write for each individual actor, and you start to see it in the stage directions. They’re complete goofballs, so most of the stage directions are very funny …

ARQUETTE Like, Daenerys farts?

CLARKE It’s a lot of in-jokes about like, “And then Jon Snow’s hair glistens in the sun like we know it will.” So they started writing for us, and I think they knew that whatever kind of stoic, cold sensibilities they might be writing down, I was going to try to bring a bit more warmth and humanity to where I possibly could. That was always a conversation we were having. And every season I’d do something else on hiatus, and I’d come back and be like, “What’s up, yeah, she’s going to sit like this” (slouches down in chair). And every time, they’re like, “That’s really cute, but sit up straight and don’t smile, you’re not funny.” (Laughter.)

Danai, you have the comic books, so there is source material there, but what kinds of questions are you asking, and how is it informing you?

GURIRA Oh, I’m a total pain in the ass because I’m all up in it. I’m the one who — when I really want to know or I really want to collaborate — we get on the phone and I chat it out. I’m like, “So I think it’s trying to do this, but what about …?” I’m not pushing the whole story to another place, but I am trying to, in my pretentious mind, help them accomplish what they’re proposing.

How much of that is the playwright in you who’s used to being in control?

GURIRA Right. But as time goes on, as Emilia’s saying, they understand that you’re living in her and she is living in you, so the collaboration becomes more and more full. But asking questions is crucial, and they’re willing to adjust things. They’re not like, “No, this is law.” And there are things you read on the page, in terms of the action of the show, where you’re like, “You know that the sword doesn’t do that?” Sometimes I have to give them a little information about how my weapon works. (Laughter.)

You’ve done huge film franchises and huge TV franchises. How did the experience and fandom differ?

CLARKE Regardless of what movie I’m on, I only get asked about Game of Thrones. And when you’re in Star Wars, Star Wars like, “That’s not OK.” I’m like, “I didn’t say anything about dragons.” But Game of Thrones is just a beast unto itself, and I’m indebted to it and bonded with it in a way no other job will ever touch.

GURIRA Okoye is leveling with Michonne. When you’re asked to sign things …

CLARKE Which one is it?

GURIRA They’re 50-50. I never know. And sometimes it’s both.

Michelle, through your experience on All the Money in the World, you became a face of a cultural movement. What did it feel like for the pay disparity on that project to go from being your story to being the world’s story?

WILLIAMS I went to D.C. recently to speak on pay equality … and something that was interesting that was said to me there was that they were so grateful for me coming to tell this story because when you’re talking about $10 versus $14, people have a hard time hearing the difference. But when you use an example as extreme as mine, it really . So, as far as anything that’s happened in my life publicly, it’s the most exciting and important thing that I’ve ever been involved in. And I’m so moved personally and professionally to have found my place in the conversation and my voice through the conversation and to feel like I’ve grown up inside of the conversation. It’s the thing I’ll feel the closest to, more than any work I’ve ever done.

Have you seen the response change as you walk into rooms now?

WILLIAMS The dynamic on sets has changed. They don’t hug you anymore.

GURIRA Oh, yeah.

WILLIAMS You don’t get a morning grope, you get a handshake now. And I feel like I’m heard in a different way — or that the space has opened up for me to be able to be heard. There wasn’t even a space before. Like the air was so thick you just figured out how to work underneath or around it.

Emilia, you recently wrote a powerful, devastating piece revealing the brain trauma you experienced early in Game of Thrones’ run. What made you decide to share your experience with the world?

CLARKE Well, two weeks before I did, I was like, “I’m not ready to share this with the world.” But I’ve had two brain hemorrhages and when the second one happened, I was like, “This is silly. The fact that I’ve now been lucky enough to see another day twice, I have to do something.” Then I went through a phase where I was having a tough time doing press. I didn’t think I could be seen. I was drowning. And we were going to do this huge partnership with HBO Richard Plepler, the dreamboat that he is, was amazing and then suddenly I was like, “I can’t.”

It just felt like too much?

CLARKE Way too much and I wasn’t ready . I wanted to help people, but I didn’t want anyone to say, “Oh, another celebrity sob story.” So I took some time and we finished the show and then one day I woke up and was like, “I have to say this because I can’t help people if I don’t.”

How much of that experience informed how you not only went through life but also approached your character?

CLARKE I’ve been lying about this for a number of years. Every time anyone was like, “Where do you get your strength?” I’m like, “Heavens, I have no idea.” But and I grew together and, it’s corny as hell, but she saved my life. The main thing that happens after you’ve had a brain injury — paralysis and all of that aside — is that you have fatigue, which sounds like a fancy way of saying you’re tired, but it’s debilitating to the point of demoralizing. And you can’t look someone in the eye because it brings up shame. Most people don’t have the mother of dragons’ shoes to walk in to help them get out of it, and those are the people I speak to now. But for me, the show must go on, so you get back in those shoes and Khaleesi’s killing all the masters, speaking to 300 people in a language that’s not real and having sex with Kit Harington . It literally forced me awake again and to look someone in the eye because I had to. It’s been an unbelievable blessing. And I’m so lucky to have my cognitive skills — there is a bit of my brain that’s died and we don’t know what it is, but it’s probably my taste in men. (Laughter.)

Let’s end on a lighter note: When was the last time you fangirled on somebody, and who was it?

NASH Oprah texted me after she saw When They See Us. I was walking around all day with my phone, like, “I’m just gonna reread that.”

What does a text from Oprah say?

What about the rest of you?

WILLIAMS Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Who’s a producer on your show, no?

WILLIAMS Yeah, which is uncomfortable for him. Hamilton is a really big deal in our household and we were seated across from each other at something, and when I saw it was him I just screamed and asked for pictures and videos and if he could come over into another area where it was quieter and if we could talk. It just came over me. When you can get something for the kids in your life, you lose all decorum.

BARANSKI Just the other day I did the Today show and I found out that Sting was in the green room. I turned into a teenager. I’m like, “Hi, my name is Christine and I’m just such a fan.” I felt so stupid … but he’s just so hot.

GURIRA For me, it was meeting Cicely Tyson. I have a condo in Atlanta, and the only thing on the wall is a massive picture of her. She was middle-aged , and there is something so beautiful about that time. There’s this idea that that’s something we’re supposed to be frightened of. The longevity idea in this industry is so like, “There is none for women,” and that gets fed to us. So looking at her every day reminds you that my journey as an artist is long.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the May 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, .

If it’s Sunday, please do not disturb Danai Gurira. That’s the one day the actress-playwright-activist likes to lay down her weapons (we’re talking prop sword or pen) and carve out time for self-care. “Creating ritualized time and space to nurture myself is something I’m constantly trying to figure out and develop,” she says.

It’s not always easy to accomplish, she admits, but it feeds her soul. “There’s nothing more fun, more replenishing, than a Sunday of walking in nature, enjoying friends’ company, or having a great meal.”

Today is a Thursday, and Danai is engaged in nourishment of another kind: dinner at Little Dom’s, a popular Los Angeles bistro. As she talks about her current projects, it’s clear why she needs—and deserves—her weekly day of rest.

BEN WATTS

Not only is she a star on one of TV’s most popular shows, AMC’s The Walking Dead, but she’s also been busy portraying fearsome general Okoye in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther (the highest-grossing superhero flick in domestic history) and the spring blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War. As if that weren’t enough, she’s the cofounder of a nonprofit, Almasi Arts, which supports and facilitates the dramatic arts in Zimbabwe, and she’s knee-deep in her next project, adapting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel Americanah into a TV miniseries.

For such a busy woman, Danai is remarkably down to earth, and she knows that the only way she can tackle her overflowing to-do list is by staying mentally and physically fit. In person, the results of her effort are clear. The 40-year-old has a powerful—almost regal—presence and moves her body with the gracefulness of a dancer: head high, shoulders back. Her secret? A mix of eating well (tonight it’s salmon, brussels sprouts, and spinach), spiritual practice, listening to her body, and, of course, exercise.

“As women, we’re not always encouraged to find the fullest extent of our physical power.”

For the past three years, she’s been sweating it out up to four times a week with trainer AJ Fisher, whom she met through one of her Walking Dead castmates. Their sessions, she says, are extremely challenging: “Sometimes it’s so intense I can’t remember what we did.” Fisher specializes in a method she coined called “Corectology,” which aims to even out muscle imbalances while improving strength, mobility, and cardiovascular function.

A typical workout for Danai includes lots of circuit training and Pilates-inspired moves, in which she alternates high-intensity intervals and active rest (that’s when she’ll do the Pilates 100, a classic core move from the method). Fisher has Danai wear a heart rate monitor and use resistance bands, which the actress travels with so she can do her workouts no matter where she is in the world. Fisher’s workouts also focus on paired muscle training—obliques and inner thighs, for example—“so you’re training your body to work together as a unit.” Every session, however, includes glutes work. “It’s the biggest muscle in the body and key for posture and balance,” says Fisher. (Important for Danai as she films fight scenes!)

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Even though her workouts are meticulously planned and quite challenging, Danai loves simply being active. She grew up participating in sports (swimming, track, and field hockey) and still hits the water whenever she can. “I don’t remember ever not being able to swim,” says Danai, who was motivated to start when she saw her older sister taking lessons. “I jumped in the water and was insistent on learning to swim with her.”

She’s happy in a pool or snorkeling in the ocean, but what keeps her kicking are the physical benefits it provides. “It’s a stunning form of exercise, and the lack of impact on the body at the same time is amazing.”

She also stays fit by doing yoga and jogging with her dog, Papi, a rescue mutt. When Danai doesn’t exercise regularly, she senses the impact it has on her overall state of mind. “If I haven’t worked out, if I haven’t exercised and connected with my body in some way, it chips away at my feeling of well-being,” she says.

“I’d love all women and girls to experience how powerful our bodies are.”

Whether she’s exercising for work or for pleasure, she thrives on knowing that pushing herself pays off. She admits she isn’t always motivated (“I don’t think anyone loves working out all the time”) but says that feeling her body engage during a sweat session can be really exhilarating and rewarding.

And when she’s sore from a workout, Danai chooses to focus on the positive. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, I’m in so much pain from that,’” she explains. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I feel the strength in my core, I feel the strength in my back.’”

Danai’s workouts prepare her for her rigorous on-camera roles, yes, but there’s a real-life empowerment element to them too. “As women, we’re not always encouraged to find the fullest extent of our physical power,” she says. “There’s something so exciting about tapping into that part of ourselves.”

She encourages other women to find joy by exploring different activities—“it might be lifting weights, it might be boxing, it might be something a little less ”—even if it means taking baby steps or putting a class on your calendar to help with motivation. “There’s no need to break records tomorrow. It’s just about slowly finding what feels good and what feels rewarding.”

BEN WATTS

Food helps her feel good too. Danai is a loose “pesca-vegan” who says giving up most meat and dairy products years ago made her feel “stronger.” She credits her upbringing with laying the foundation for her well-balanced eating habits. “I used to have spinach when I was a kid, and my mom wouldn’t let me leave the table until I’d eaten it,” says the actress, who was born in Iowa and grew up in Zimbabwe (her parents were academics).

“Somehow that worked its way into me feeling like I have to eat spinach. And now I love spinach—I mean, I love spinach. I want it in my smoothies, I want it on the side, I want it with my meals,” she says with a smile as she digs into a plate of the leafy greens.

Danai’s parents instilled in her more than just a love of vegetables. “I was in a home where I was allowed to freely find myself,” she recalls. Today, helping others do the same is one of her biggest missions. “The struggles of women and girls is something that I’m very passionate about. I have to do what I can in the world. We all have to do what we can.” She’s on a “continual journey” to fight for gender equality, and with Almasi Arts, she explains, she’s “making sure unheard voices are heard and celebrated.” (The nonprofit pairs fledgling artists with established pros.)

“You have to seek your purpose and pursue it.”

Danai, who has won numerous awards as a playwright and was nominated for a Tony Award in 2016, firmly believes in the power of storytelling—especially narratives that highlight the experiences of African women. The fact that she didn’t hear or see those stories while she was growing up is what inspired her to start writing. The global success of Black Panther has fulfilled her in many ways. “It kind of affirms that little African girl’s instinct that these stories would resonate if they were told with passion, integrity, and excellence.”

BEN WATTS

Though she’s accomplished so much, there’s still work to be done. And Danai has no plans to rest. As she tells young people she meets along the way, “There’s no app for skipping hard work; you have to seek your purpose and pursue it.” What keeps her fueled is “remembering the goals,” and making sure that when she’s finished living in this world, she’ll have given it her all.

Even if she takes some Sundays off.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Women’s Health. Pick up a copy, on newsstands June 26.

Photo: Ben Watts (Women’s Health/Rodale Inc.)

Just when we’d decided that the beach was gonna get whatever body we decided to give it this year, here comes Danai Gurira on the cover of the July/August issue of Women’s Health, reminding us that we could probably do better.

Not that we hope to reach Gurira-level fitness; the actress, playwright and activist works way harder for her stellar bod than we likely have the focus for, admitting to the magazine that when it comes to her sessions with trainer A.J. Fisher, “Sometimes it’s so intense, I can’t remember what we did.”

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Along with a very responsible “pesca-vegan” diet and spiritual balance, Fisher’s “Corectology” method is the secret behind the stability and strength that fuels the 40-year-old Gurira’s incredible physique and athleticism seen in The Walking Dead and Black Panther.

The method “aims to even out muscle imbalances while improving strength, mobility, and cardiovascular function.”

Gurira’s workouts incorporate circuit training, the Pilates 100 and resistance bands, which make her intense workouts portable. And while Fisher pairs different muscle groups to increase Gurira’s stability, glutes are always on the menu. “It’s the biggest muscle in the body and key for posture and balance,” Fisher tells Women’s Health.

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“If I haven’t worked out, if I haven’t exercised and connected with my body in some way, it chips away at my feeling of well-being,” Gurira tells the magazine. “As women, we’re not always encouraged to find the fullest extent of our physical power. There’s something so exciting about tapping into that part of ourselves.”

Helping women and girls tap into their power is one of Gurira’s goals—in life, in work and with her Zimbabwean-American arts nonprofit, Almasi Arts, which pairs established and aspiring artists.

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“The struggles of women and girls is something that I’m very passionate about,” she tells Women’s Health. “I have to do what I can in the world. We all have to do what we can.”

It’s the kind of drive that gives Gurira her remarkable body, focus and career, and reminds us why she was perfectly cast as the Dora Milaje general Okoye.

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“There’s no app for skipping hard work,” she says. “You have to seek your purpose and pursue it.”

The Glow Up tip: The July/August issue of Women’s Health, featuring Gurira, hits newsstands June 26.

Danai Gurira Shows Her Strength On Cover Of ‘Women’s Health’

We’re less than 24 hours away from the full release of Beyoncè’s Ivy Park collaboration with Adidas and fans are beyond ready, thanks to her brilliant orange box preview.

The entertainer and businesswoman gifted her family and celebrity pals with treasure trunks of goodies. From Solange to Yara Shahidi, celebs shared pieces from the collection on social media this week. Adidas announced its multi-year partnership with the mogul last April, making history in the process. The singer is the first black woman to be the sole owner of an athleisure brand. Bey took the steps to own the brand entirely after her initial collab with Topshop in 2016 by purchasing the shares of Phillip Green after sexual harassment claims were filed against him.

“It’s a dream come true to re-launch IVY PARK as the sole owner,” Beyonce said in a statement. It’s her first collaboration with adidas but not her first time building buzz for a product. The legend cleverly shared the mysterious orange boxes in all shapes in sized to her friends, thus creating quite the conversation on social media.

Ivy Park is also creating bigger conversations in the corporate world. According to a November research note by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Ivy Park’s sales can slowly surpass Kanye West’s Yeezy line.

“In-line with adidas approach on other franchises, we would expect there to be a low volume, high priced launch … to create brand heat and in the following years the brand will likely become more democratized,” the note says.“Initially, Ivy Park will be smaller than Yeezy, but Ivy Park has the potential to be larger, if managed properly,” says Matt Powell, a senior footwear analyst at NPD Group.

We love to see it.

See the celebs bask in their Ivy Park glory below.

Tina Lawson

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I love this couture beautiful Orange IVY PARK Adidas dress thanks @beyonce. @ivyparkadidas @ivypark. @beyonce. @dougspearman

A post shared by Tina Knowles (@mstinalawson) on Jan 12, 2020 at 1:27pm PST

Reese Witherspoon

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Thank you, @Beyonce for the #IvyPark swag!

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on Jan 15, 2020 at 2:28pm PST

Janelle Monae

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Thank you Bey for these @weareivypark pieces ! And a special thank you for my new hide out where I’ll bey escaping my duties . S O proud of you ! Luhhhhh uuuuu @beyonce swiiiipe ☄️

A post shared by Janelle Monáe (@janellemonae) on Jan 15, 2020 at 10:35pm PST

Hailey Bieber

unboxing her #adidasxIVYPARK package. pic.twitter.com/Y3rcxIDhCe

— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@BeyLegion) January 15, 2020

Kelly Rowland

unboxing her #adidasxIVYPARK package. pic.twitter.com/vGqwwnZrnl

— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@BeyLegion) January 16, 2020

Yara Shahidi

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ADDIDASXIVYPARK PEEK

A post shared by Yara (يارا‎) Shahidi (@yarashahidi) on Jan 10, 2020 at 11:41pm PST

Scottie Beam

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Check my instastories to see what Beyonce SELECTED for me. Lmfao! Thank you so so much @weareivypark @beyonce ✨ THE INFEED PHOTO IS COMING!

A post shared by scottiebeam (@scottiebeam) on Jan 17, 2020 at 6:48am PST

Ellen DeGeneres

Thank you, @Beyonce. I love my big orange box. Your new clothes are really cool too. #adidasxIVYPARK @adidas pic.twitter.com/ecTxZ5o0CG

— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 15, 2020

Missy Elliott

Thank you so much @Beyonce I am soooooooo humbly grateful you are a GEM! Lol the box was so big I was scared to open I thought a whole human was gonna jump out but this FYE sis #IVYPARK I LOVE IT! pic.twitter.com/hJbrfDWvXL

— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) January 16, 2020

Diplo

unboxing his #adidasxIVYPARK package. pic.twitter.com/D2BKKVzLBw

— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@BeyLegion) January 14, 2020

Zendaya

Zendaya has gotten her Ivy Park box….#IvyParkXAdidas #IvyPark #adidasxIVYPARK #adidas pic.twitter.com/fLYdYAVyWn

— Yoncé Headlines (@YonceHeadlines) January 15, 2020

Kim Kimble

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Thank you @beyonce @weareivypark @adidas for this drip and I’m going to buy some as well

A post shared by Kim Kimble (@kimblehaircare) on Jan 15, 2020 at 4:07pm PST

Rita Ora

Rita Ora out and about in her Ivy Park x Adidas wear. pic.twitter.com/hFt4OQjE4v

— Beyoncé, Period! (@ourhermitage) January 16, 2020

Quincy

Diddy’s son, Quincy, also got a box of the upcoming Ivy Park/Adidas collection, officially dropping on the 18th of January, 2020 pic.twitter.com/rUJOWgy2l4

— Beyoncé, Period! (@ourhermitage) January 12, 2020

Cardi B

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That new @weareivypark bomb

A post shared by Cardib (@iamcardib) on Jan 13, 2020 at 10:15pm PST

Laverne Cox

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#mood4eva in my Adidas X IVY Park … #mood #TransIsBeautiful @adidas @weareivypark @beyonce #DisclosureDoc

A post shared by laverne cox (@lavernecox) on Jan 16, 2020 at 12:00pm PST

Michelle Williams

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Looks coming soooooooooon!!! “I GOT IT” by @rickydillard is appropriate! @beyonce @weareivypark @adidas!! Ok bye for now!!

A post shared by Michelle Williams (@michellewilliams) on Jan 16, 2020 at 2:03pm PST

Solange

Solange getting the Ivy Park x Adidas from her sis pic.twitter.com/G2bRO2lTYc

— | IVY PARK X ADIDAS ON JAN 18th (@beysarayonce) January 15, 2020

Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner got a Ivy Park box…#IvyParkXAdidas #IvyPark #adidasxIVYPARK #adidas pic.twitter.com/79LGysUZBp

— Yoncé Headlines (@YonceHeadlines) January 17, 2020

Keke Palmer

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why do i feel like the whole planet earth is going to wear ivy park? — #beyonce #beyoncé #queen #queenb #yoncé #rumiandsir #rumiandsircarter #rumicarter #sircarter #blueivy #blueivycarter #jayz #jayonce #beyonceandjayz #thecarters #sashafierce #beyhives #beyhive #beckywiththegoodhair #ivypark #ivyparkbeyonce #weareivypark #ivypark2020 #2020 #beyonce2020 #beyoncephotoshoot #beyonceoutfit #flawless

A post shared by (@bivyslife) on Jan 17, 2020 at 4:36am PST

Danai gurira magazine cover

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