The Lion King’s ‘Nala’ – Roaring with Diversity and Success
We’ve all heard the inspiring tale of Simba and how he is destined to rule the Pride Lands. But as the saying goes, “behind every great man there’s a great woman.” In this case, the ‘great woman’ refers to Nara, played by Nia Holloway. This is a role that she has mastered for over half a decade – and she is reaping the sweet fruits of her determination. Both the animated Disney movie and the Broadway production have allowed actors of color such as Holloway to shine.
On October 3, 2019, the musical’s Broadway tour kicked off in Boston too much admiration from different generations of fanatics. Disney’s The Lion King first took the entertainment industry by storm in 1994 when the animated film was well-received by Gen Xers. 25 years later, the 2019 film by Jon Favreau, starring Beyoncé, won the hearts of Millennials and Gen Zeds. The cross-generational story revolves around the life journey of Simba as he attempts to live up to the legacy of his deceased father with the support of Nala, the love of his life.
Holloway’s journey as the ‘Queen of the Pride Lands’ started all the way in her junior year of high school when Disney’s tour of The Lion King cast her a Nara. This casting made Holloway the youngest performer to portray adult Nara. According to the actor, the rest of her formative years were spent on the road.
Despite her current success as a woman of color in the performing arts industry, Holloways claims that it was not always an easy journey – but then again; neither was Nala’s journey in the Pride Lands. She recounts how she faced multiple rejections just because lead roles for black kids were hard to come by.
Now she is a shining light for young performers and actresses to follow their dreams on Broadway. She says that “I’ve grown as an entertainer on stage and as a person. Nala has really helped me grow into the woman I am today. It’s a very challenging role.” Holloways hope that her success can inspire other black and brown kids to follow in her footsteps.