Danai was born in Grinnell, Iowa to parents from Zimbabwe, when her father was teaching Chemistry at Grinnell College. When she was 5, the family moved back to Zimbabwe.
Gurira studied social psychology at Macalaster College, and received an MFA from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She is the co-author of the play In the Continuum with Nikkole Salter, for which she was nominated for a 2007 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role.
Danai has made appearances on shows such as Treme, Law & Order, Lie to Me, American Experience and Life on Mars.
She won the 2008 Best Supporting Actress award at the Method Fest for her role in the movie The Visitor.
In 2018 she starred in Black Panther as main character Okoye. In the same year she reprised her role in Avengers: Infinity War.
Danai has shown an interest in writing novels based off women's problems, especially in the third world. She traveled to London to attend the World Forum Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, where she interacted with Nobel Peace Prize winners and Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya, among others.
In an interview with El Tiempo's Wilson Vega, she stated "...In fact, through Jineth (Bedoya), I feel like I must know more about Colombia, and through Tawakkol Karman, I feel like I must know more about Yemen. Just being on the forum tells me that there's so many stories we must know about, so much pain we never hear of. There's a load in my heart for Africa, no doubt; but it makes me happy that you ask me about that, as this forum has given me a need to know, to investigate. I have an extreme care of not writing about cultures I'm not a part of, but I would love to write stories about Colombia."
- BSFC Award for Best Ensemble Cast.
- Method Fest Award for Best Supporting Actress.
- Although Michonne is very quiet, Gurira has been nicknamed "Megaphone" by her friends because of her loud voice and outgoing personality.
- Gurira did competitive swimming as a child.
- Gurira says that she loves all of her zombie kills equally.
- In order to portray Michonne's katana skills, Danai had to train with a sword for several weeks.
- She starred alongside Ross Marquand in Avengers: Infinity War.