Young 'The Lion King' actors take part in Black History Month tradition

Sonia Rincón Image
Friday, February 24, 2023
Young 'The Lion King' actors take part in Black history tradition
A Black History Month tradition took center stage amongst the youngest cast members of Broadway's 'The Lion King' on Thursday. Sonia Rincon has the story.

MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- A backstage tradition that's been going on for years took center stage amongst the youngest cast members of Broadway's 'The Lion King' in honor of Black History Month.

"Every day in the month of February that they are in the theater, they must give me a Black history fact," said 'The Lion King' actor Bonita Hamilton.

It's become a tradition for Hamilton, who's played Shenzi in 'The Lion King' for 18 years.

Hamilton challenges each group of young actors who play the show's cubs to learn about important Black historical figures each February.

She started this tradition after realizing kids weren't learning about all that many figures beyond Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

"And in the climate that we're in now, they're trying to erase our history," Hamilton said. "And our history is important."

The current group of Lion King cubs explained to Eyewitness News Reporter Sandy Kenyon, that they take the challenge to find out, very seriously.

"Make sure you've got details that maybe you didn't know about, especially, but something that's not common knowledge, something different," 10-year-old Ava Harris said. "Someone who's in the background that still did something very amazing."

"He invented this process to make sure that the virus did not hurt other animals in the industry. "

Hamilton says she gets a lot of joy out of making sure kids dig deeper into history, and it leaves an impression. Past young actors reach out to participate again.

"One thing I get out of that is a lot of knowledge and the meaning of when someone marked a milestone, and like, how much it impacts the other people around them," 12-year-old KJ Johnson said.

"I think it's made it a lot more helpful that we're helping someone else while we're actually learning ourselves," 12-year-old Dylan Rodrigo said.

Harris said that it's important to study Black history because she is part of Black history.

"I will do something amazing, something that no one has ever seen before and I'm going to make an impact on the world and people will know about it," she said.


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