Shahadi Wright Joseph Returns To ‘The Lion King,’ Puts Her Own Twist On Young Nala

Shahadi Wright Joseph wears a red jacket
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This may not be Shahadi Wright Joseph’s first time playing the character of Young Nala in The Lion King, but Hollywood Life has revealed that this time, she got to put her own twist on the character.

Shahadi Wright Joseph originally got to play Nala on Broadway. At 9-years-old, she was the youngest actress to ever have the honor of doing so. Now, at 14, she got to step back into the role for the live-action version of the Disney film.

Since this time around was for a movie and not a Broadway musical, Shahadi said she was able to mold the character in the way she wanted and was able to decide how she wanted other young girls to see the little lion cub.

“It was great because the role was really recognizable and I could do all these new things now that I couldn’t do in the Broadway version. I was really young then, but now I’m a little bit older so I can really focus on how I want young Nala to be portrayed to other young girls.”

The actress also noted that she got a lot more freedom than she did when she played the character before. She said this made the role even more fun to get to play.

Not only did Shahadi get to put her own twist on the character, making her extra special, she also didn’t actually get to see the lion until the trailer came out. For this film, all the lions were done in complete CGI.

Aside from seeing some drawings while they were recording, Shahadi says she found out with everyone else what the lion cub ended up looking like. Shahadi doesn’t seem to be let down by what she saw during the trailer.

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“I had seen some little drawings of her while we were rehearsing and shooting, but I hadn’t actually seen what it would look like in the trailer. So it was really awesome seeing it and I was so excited because I hadn’t seen anything just like everybody else,” she told Hollywood Life

The new Lion King movie is set to come out worldwide on July 19. Beyonce, who also voices Nala, has a special bond to the movie too. Apparently, it was the first Disney movie to make her cry, The Inquisitr notes. Apparently, the singer is still surprised that she was even able to be in the live action version of the iconic film.

Originally voiced by Moira Kelly, Beyonce says that the role of Older Nala affirms the importance of female roles when compared to male roles in movies.