In the November issue of ESSENCE we caught up with The Walking Dead‘s newest hellraiser, Danai Gurira. The Iowa born-Zimbabwe raised actress shares how she nailed her character’s complexity.

“Connecting to dire world circumstances in places I care about really fueled how I played Michonne,” said Gurira. “Connecting to aspects of even human rights abuses that happened in places I care about, fuel her… aspects of what happens to someone when they go to war, PTSD aspects of things, and how they become hyper-vigilant and hyper aware of how to protect and defend and to be also on the offense as well. Sometimes I just look at her eyes in the comic book image—there’s sadness, but there’s strength.”

If you love Gurira in The Walking Dead, there’s a chance you’re adore her in the new indie film, Ma’ George, about a Basotho woman who’s fighting to save her failing marriage while finding ways to assimilate to American culture.

Tune into AMC Sunday nights at 9 p.m. to catch Gurira in action!

For more information about Danai Gurira, pick up the November issue of ESSENCE on newsstands now.

Reporting By Tracy Garraud