An Exclusive Interview with Chantel Riley; Nala in The Lion King on Broadway


I knew that this blog needed something wow-worthy to kick it into the right direction of where I want it to be going over the coming months. So, I got straight down to it and landed myself an interview with the lady who currently plays Nala in The Lion King on Broadway in New York City, Chantel Riley. 

Chantel first landed the role of Nala in the German production back in 2011 and has since made the move over to New York City to play the role in the Broadway production. Questions that I asked are marked as 'SN' and Chantel's answers are marked as 'CR'. So, without any further ado, let the interview with Ms Riley commence...

SN: Hi Chantel! Thank you so much for doing this, it means a lot. So, shall we get straight down to the questions?

CR: Sure!

SN: Okay, first thing's first, what made you want to be on Broadway in the first place?

CR: Well it wasn't something I knew too much about at first but when I saw my first Broadway musical 'the Color Purple', it was as if something awoke within me. I remember saying "I can do that. I want to do that."

SN: That sounds wonderful. How did you go about making that dream a reality and becoming Nala on Broadway?

CR: One Sunday, my pastor told us to make a dream board and to put up all that we want to see happen for our lives. One picture I had up was Nala from the Broadway production of 'the Lion King'. Prior to that, I had been through many callbacks for an open casting call for the show. Even though I hadn't heard anything for about 6 months, I stayed faithful and continued working at my occupation as an Auto Insurance Adjuster. Suddenly, I got a call to fly to Germany to be a part of the show there. After 14 months of being a part of the Hamburg production, I was asked to audition once more for Nala on Broadway, but this time was different. This time, it was in front of Julie Taymor [the Tony Award winning director of 'the Lion King on Broadway'] herself. Two weeks later, I got called to be on Broadway. Just like what I believed in God for; he made it happen.

SN: Wow that's wonderful! Just goes to show how keeping faith and believing really will get you to where you want to be. Did you find it tough to adjust to the Broadway life when you got to the Lion King in NYC? Or even the life surrounding the German production? Was it easy to find a group of nice people in the theatre business?

CR:  In Germany, it was a little difficult to get used to. I was in a totally different country around people speaking a completely different language. Plus, it was my first time living on my own. It quickly became easier because I was surrounded by a loving cast from all different parts of the world who went through the same experience as I did. When I came to New York, it was easy to get used to the fast paced life. I am from Toronto, so it is a little bit similar. The cast and crew in New York are like family. The show is running in it's 17th year and most of us spend more time at the theatre than with our own families! You learn to love but like other families, we're dysfunctional!

SN: How lovely it must be to be surrounded by such nice and loving people in an environment that you love to work in! How long have you been playing Nala for now?

CR: 3 years now. 1 year in Germany and 2 in New York.

SN: What's your favourite part that you get to do in the show? Do you have a favourite song? My personal favourite is "Shadowland"!

CR: I love singing "Shadowland". But another favorite for me is "the Lioness Chant".

SN: Both are beautiful songs. If you were to be playing any other role on Broadway, which role do you think you'd like to be playing?

CR: Not too sure... There are so many to choose from and I'm having a lot of fun in the role that I'm in right now.

SN: Well at least you love your job and the role that you're in. Do you think you'll stay in Broadway theatre for the forseeable future?

CR: I love Broadway, but I'm looking forward to expanding myself through television, film and music. I have two songs available on iTunes and Google Play now; "Oh My Soul" and "All My Love".

SN: I've heard both of them and they're incredible - you're so talented! Do you have any advice you'd like to give to young, aspiring theatre performers?

CR: Dream BIG! No dream is ever too big. Don't give up on faith or yourself.

SN: What wonderful advice. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

CR: Dream. Pray. Believe.

SN: How beautiful. Thank you so much for your time, Chantel.

CR: Thank you!

You can catch Chantel as Nala in The Lion King on Broadway, currently playing at the Minskoff Theatre in NYC.

2 comments

  1. I loved this Shaun, how incredible to interview Chantel, I love how she believed in herself and her faith and she got the part. A really interesting and enjoyable post, fabulous! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Zo. It's such an inspiring story, isn't it? Xxx

      Delete