Why It Matters (And Is Dope) That Beyoncé Could Be Playing Nala In The ‘Lion King’ Remake
Last week, Variety reported that Disney is interested in casting Beyoncé as the voice of Nala for its live-action version of The Lion King. I’m so here for it.
While nothing is confirmed yet, the film’s director, Jon Favreau, wants Bey over everyone else.
One of the most admirable moves Disney has made with this film so far is all of the casting announcements have been Black. As the film does take place in Africa (and many people low-key claim The Lion King as the first Disney film with “Black” characters), this is a good and smart choice.
Compared to the original Lion King film, this is a major shift. Remember young Simba? Jonathan Taylor Thomas performed his voicing duties. Grown Simba? That was Matthew Broderick. At least Jason Weaver supplied the singing voice for Young Simba and Whoopi Goldberg played the smart hyena. With that track record, Disney is already trending toward a more thoughtful voicing cast with this choice.
Whites Dominate Voice Acting
As a parent of 3 children under 10, I know a thing or two about animated films. We’re one of those families that pre-orders these movies and has them delivered to our front door by Amazon on their release date. Whether I like the film or not is immaterial. The 60-90 minutes of peace I get when they’re watching Trolls or Moana for the 50th time is all that matters.
Beyond that relief, the secondary benefit of watching (and listening to) these movies so often is you develop an incredible knack for sussing out the actors are behind the characters. Yes, Reese Witherspoon is the singing pig in Sing. Yes, the secondary benefit of being an SNL cast member must be a steady stream of voice work in films like Storks and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. And yes, the vast majority of the actors behind animated characters are white, no matter who or what they are portraying.
Beyoncé’s work as a voice actress is quite slim (she has only done one film, Epic, back in 2013). But I’d argue that the biggest benefit to signing Beyoncé is the heat she could bring to the soundtrack. One of The Lion King‘s biggest signatures was its outstanding soundtrack. From “The Circle of Life” to “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “Hakuna Matata”, Disney put out some truly outstanding music for that film.
Now imagine what Beyoncé could do to elevate it even more.
And that’s just the beginning. New original songs are almost a guarantee for this film. With Beyoncé pregnant with twins, I don’t see us getting a follow-up to Lemonade anytime soon, so a few exquisite tracks placed on this soundtrack would be a nice way to tide us fans over until her next release. Just sayin.
Disney Might Actually Be Doing Better
Disney has been on a spree, reimagining their classic films as live action adventures. We’ve seen Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book already. Disney has also planned releases for Mary Poppins, Mulan, and even Dumbo. I can see the appeal of this approach. Creatively, Disney can reimagine and possibly improve on the originals. At the same time, Disney is mining its own creative properties for an easy financial windfall.
The biggest danger in all of this is that Disney is messing with true classics, films that many hold dear to their heart. And The Lion King is without a doubt one of the best and most cherish Disney films of all time. Since they are intent on making a live action version of this film, they best come correct.
I’m excited for the remake of The Lion King. The film is planned to be shot using CGI, much like The Jungle Book. The golden savanna will be a glorious visual masterpiece. But as much as this film has going for it, I know the addition of Beyoncé will do nothing but make it better.
Beyoncé has already claimed her title as the Queen in nearly every other walk of life. Why not let her rule over the Pride Lands too?
Photo credit: Beyoncé
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