BY Dollita Okine, 2:05pm March 20, 2024,

Meet Nia Thompson, 12-year-old actress blooming as Young Nala on Broadway’s The Lion King

Nia Thompson is making waves with her talent, securing a role as the new Young Nala in the iconic production of The Lion King. Photo Credit: Nia Thompson

Nia Thompson is making waves with her talent, securing a role as the new Young Nala in the iconic production of The Lion King. The 12-year-old’s passion for the stage ignited during a pivotal moment in her childhood.

In an interview with Because Of Them We Can, her mother, Gessie Thompson, recounted, “I took Nia to see KeKe Palmer in her historic performance as the first Black Disney princess on Broadway in Cinderella. As the curtains closed, she turned to me and said, ‘I’m supposed to be on the stage.’”

Nia started her acting career in the pre-K auditorium of her new school, driven by that ambition in her heart. When six-year-old Nia expressed that she wanted to be involved in her first project by the time she was seven or eight, her supportive mother started looking for an agent for her daughter.

The young actress’s passion for The Lion King began on her eighth birthday when she entered the Minskoff Theater for the first time. This experience was largely due to a backstage tour led by the late Sharron Lynn Williams, a seven-year ensemble member, which turned into a significant event.

Thompson responded, “I want to be in The Lion King!” when asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, inspired by Sharron’s words and visualizing herself on stage.

Nia debuted on Broadway as Young Nala four years later, on the eve of her twelfth birthday. Though Nia plays a major role, her mother stated that she still acts like a typical teenage girl.

Even so, the 12-year-old is dedicated to her work, showing up on time for appointments, carefully studying her art at home, and actively participating in her own personal development.

Gessie stated that Nia understands the importance of representation and has accepted her role with grace, grit, and gratitude, noting, “She is very intentional about being a role model that inspires others in marginalized communities that they, too, belong on Broadway—or wherever their dreams take them.”

She recently arranged a backstage tour for Jordan, a five-year-old from Chicago. As a way of giving back to Sharron for her experience, she also urged Jordan to envision herself performing live. Gessie mentioned that the two shot a lot of pictures as Nia told the other girl about the show.

Nia follows a long line of remarkable women who have played Young Nala, including Kajuana S. Marie, who first played Young Nala on Broadway in The Lion King’s 1997 production. 

She shared her best wishes for Nia, saying, “I’ve seen many young talented girls fill the shoes of Young Nala on Broadway, and each and every one of them kills it, bringing their own unique spin. I have no doubt that this will be different. Wishing Nia the best!”

Nia is most recognized for her breakthrough performance in the Disney animated short series and music “Rise Up, Sing Out,” which was nominated for both the NAACP Image Award and the Young Entertainer Award, according to IMDB

She has also appeared in films such as “The Equalizer,” “Godfather of Harlem,” “Washington Black,” and the animated comedy “Ada Twist Scientist,” which won an Emmy for the Obamas.

Her popular songs from “Super Bonnet” and “Speak Up” can be found in Disney Junior Hits playlists on Apple Music, Spotify, and other platforms. 

Along with being the CEO of Authentic Nia Inc., the trailblazer recently announced her podcast, “Authentic Voices,” a collaboration with The Conscious Kid which will center around discussions encouraging genuine and fearless living.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 20, 2024


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