Anika Noni Rose Shines Brightly in “Half Of A Yellow Sun”
Anika Noni Rose is a quiet force. The kind of actress whose understated performances linger in your mind and elevate whichever project she’s working on. Witness her unforgettable range in her Tony-nominated performance as Benethea in the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, and this week, in the film adaptation of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s critically-acclaimed novel, Half of a Yellow Sun.
Rose plays the feisty Kainene, a twin sister, as she lives through the the Nigerian-Biafran War (1967-70). She spoke with ESSENCE.com about falling in love with Kainene before ever getting the script, getting the news of her Tony nomination, and her thoughts on the abduction of over 200 Nigerian girls.
How does one take in the news of being nominated for a Tony? What did you do that morning?
[Laughs] I called my parents. I jumped up and down a little bit. I called my castmates, who are also nominated and congratulated them, and we were happy together on the phone. Then, I went and did a show.
We’ve been waiting for the film adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun for a very long time – the film was completed in 2012. Were you familiar with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work before this?
Yes, I read the book when it came out. I loved the book so when they called me about it and were like, ‘Yeah, we don’t know, it’s a book, I think it’s called Half of the Yellow…’ I was like, ‘Half of the Yellow Sun?!’ I knew immediately what they were talking about and accepted it without even knowing the role I was up for. I was really excited. I think that [Chimamanda’s] voice is phenomenal and vital and fresh and new and long lasting. She excites me as a person. Having met her, I now know that her person is as exciting and fresh and vital and real. She is thrilling to me. I was really honored to be able to take part in introducing the role to her voice.
Read more about the actresses’s thoughts on the film being banned in Nigeria and what she thinks is the saddest thing about the recent abductions on Essence.