It is the break of day, and the sky grows brighter by the second. As the shot pans the African savanna, wild animals of every kind slowly wake from their slumber. As the music swells, the animals gather in front of a majestic rock that juts out from the ground and sits like a throne on the plain. A sol- emn hush falls over the congregation, when suddenly… “ NAAAANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA!!!”
No further introduction needed, my dudes. The Lion King is coming to Manila this March and there’s already a lot of, um, uproar about it. (Heh, I tried.) In anticipation of the Disney classic, Young STAR sat down with Noxolo Dlamini, who plays Nala, and had a little chat with her about what she loves about her character, African culture, and some of her dream roles.
YOUNG STAR: It must be super exciting to play Nala, but also there must be this sense of responsibility to it because she’s such a classic character.
NOXOLO DLAMINI: I never played Nala before, but I’ve been in The Lion King. I was a Nala understudy, but that didn’t happen because I had a bit of a difficult time with my voice and… it was really tough. But I got through it, then I got back home, and then I decided, you know, I’m going to work on my voice because I really do want to play this character. It’s an amazing feeling to actually get to play the character and not just be an understudy but to actually play her. And it does feel like a big responsibility but, I don’t think I got it for no reason. I feel like I got it because obviously…
Exactly, and they trusted me enough to play it. As nervous as I am, I still believe I can definitely carry it.
Oh my gosh, that is the attitude to have!
Well, yeah, I mean I can’t doubt myself. If I doubt myself, what’s the audience going to think?! I’m ready for it. I’m ready for the challenge.
Nala is considered a Disney princess of sorts, but she’s not like the others — aside from the fact that she’s, well, a lion. But what about her do you love and what about her do you feel is important for audiences, young girls especially, to know today?
Nala is a warrior. She is very strong-willed. And I think it shows other young girls that sometimes you need to step out- side of your comfort zone to get things done. You don’t need to feel like you shouldn’t be doing that because you’re a woman, but that you actually can do it because you’re a woman. She’s sensitive but she’s also very powerful. I think young girls can definitely pick that up from her. I feel like you identify with her a lot. (Laughs) I feel like I do! I think in my journey and in my career also — look at me, I’m gonna start crying, it’s crazy, but, um… I absolutely love the character. Not just because I get to be onstage, because of her story. I mean like, anybody can identify with her.