Before she steps on stage, Wandachristine dances as she waits for her cue.

There’s rarely a moment when the actress/voice artist/playwright/novelist isn’t in motion, and her role as Anne Mwarimba in Danai Gurira’s “Familiar” at Seattle Repertory Theatre is no exception.

"I think that this show is going to change so many lives,” she said.

The production revolves around the wedding preparations of a Zimbabwean-American family in the Minneapolis suburbs. It was how Gurira — best known for her roles in “Black Panther,” and “The Walking Dead,” — wrote about love and family, and the immigrant experience in America that drew Wandachristine to the script.

“Those chords struck really hard with me, and at the same time as an actress I felt that it was something that I really, really wanted to do,” she said.

And while Gurira’s on-screen presence is captivating, she said, it “doesn’t even begin to touch what she does as a writer.”

“Everything she does she has a mark of intensity, but she also writes very strong roles for women, especially women of color,” she said. “And in my age category to be able to do something where you’re not going to die on stage (laughter) and you’re not somebody’s grand-mamma, that’s important to me.”

That’s a battle that plays out in Wandachristine’s own works.

Her novel, “I Love You More … Than Shoes!” follows four actresses over the age of 50 trying to make it in Hollywood, while her latest play, “One Day,” is about a quartet of 60-plus actresses who take an agent, a director, a casting director and a writer hostage in their own effort to get parts.

“I like to write about topical subjects, but at the same time, I want to make people laugh,” she said. “Because if we don’t have laughter then there’s no healing in the world. I feel that there’s so much depression, so much as far as beating us down emotionally and physically that we don’t get a chance to really laugh. That’s what I enjoy about doing this play.”

Fresh off playing six different characters in Pulitzer Prize winner Dael Orlandersmith’s one-woman show, “Beauty’s Daughter,” in Chicago last summer, “Familiar” also brought a new challenge: Learning how to speak the Bantu language of Shona.

It was a task she tried to take on mostly on her own, but as rehearsals began, the help of dialect coaches proved invaluable.

“I was consumed day and night because I wanted to make sure that I was speaking it correctly,” she said. “I didn’t want anybody to jump up on stage and smack me on the head and go, ‘You’re messing up my language!’”

Instead, she heard from audiences at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis — in a city with a large population of African immigrants — that her portrayal was a convincing one; to the point they didn’t know she was American.

“That was definitely a feather in my cap, but that was a very difficult process,” she said.

True to the title, her hope now is that local theatergoers leave each performance feeling closer to their loved ones. People don’t communicate like they use to, she said, and it’s created a gap in relationships.

“I think that we’ve gotten away from touch, we’ve gotten away from saying things in person to one another, we’ve gotten away from just tactile moments,” she said. “ … I think that this show kind of reminds people of that, that those things are important and that we shouldn’t let the iPhone or the emails forget that we do need to still have some sort of correspondence with one another.”

But the weight of a show on the immigrant experience isn’t lost on Wandachristine either. In fact, it’s more important than ever.

“People came from all over the world to settle in this country to help make it what it is,” she said. “How dare we say, ‘You cannot stay here.’ How dare we say, ‘You’ve been here for how long, and now you have to go.’ How dare we say, ‘We’re not going to take care of you, even though you’ve been here contributing to us.’ … I think that this play, absolutely, reminds us, how dare we, how can we forget, and when we do forget, we have to remember.”

And she has no doubt that once people see “Familiar," it’s a story they won’t soon forget.

“If you want to laugh, you want to cry, you want to have a good time but remember who you are, come and see this show,” she said. “Not only come and see it, [but] bring your momma, bring your daddy, bring your sister, your brother, bring everybody that you know, and then once you see it, you’re going to come back again.”

“Familiar” runs through May 27 at Seattle Repertory Theatre. For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to