The Lion King brings Shahadi Wright Joseph full circle

Young Simba and Young Nala with Zazu.
Young Simba and Young Nala with Zazu.

WHEN Shahadi Wright Joseph’s mum sent her eight-year-old daughter to audition for The Lion King Broadway production, neither of them thought she would be successful.

“That’s when I knew I wanted to be an actor because I felt like all my dreams had come true,” 14-year-old Wright Joseph said.

“It felt like I was finally completing one part of myself when I started to act. It made me feel so happy.”

New York-based Wright Joseph went on to productions of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock The Musical and Hairspray Live! before filming Jordan Peele horror movie Us.

Honouring the role that started it all, she has revisited The Lion King by voicing Young Nala in Jon Favreau’s photorealistic computer-animated remake of Disney’s 1994 film.

Shahadi Wright Joseph at The Lion King world premiere.

“Young Nala is very confident, strong, brave and true to herself,” she said.

“She reminds me of myself so I think that’s why I love her so much.

“It was a little bit challenging because I had never done voice acting before, but I had so much fun working with J.D. McCrary who plays Young Simba.

“The biggest challenge of voice acting is making the energy of the kids come through only with your voice.

“When you don’t have your body for support it can be kind of confusing, but overall it was an amazing experience.”

While Wright Joseph said her favourite moment on the movie was singing I Just Can’t Wait To Be King with McCrary, she also had “the best time” meeting Beyonce, who voiced Adult Nala.

“She has been inspiring me for a very long time, so it was really great to get to work with her.”

The Lion King is now in cinemas.

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