Transcript of Online interview with Kajuana Shuford
and Heather Headley
Today we are proud to present
two stars from "The Lion King:
The Broadway Musical,"
the hottest show on Broadway
We'll be talking with Kajuana
Shuford who plays young Nala
and Heather Headley who plays Nala.
Today we must stick strictly to our
and end the chat at exactly 7:00
Now I'll turn the stage over to
Kajuana, how old are you?
I'm 12 years old and I'll be thirteen
Kajuana, do you still go to school?
Yes. I go to school every day
and I get off a little early
Wednesday because the show
What do your classmates think of
you being on Broadway?
They think it's really cool and they
think it's really cool
seeing me on TV
They always say I saw you on the
How old were you when you
started in show business, Kajuana?
I was about 11 or 10 and 1/2.
How did you get started? What
was your first job?
My first job was a commercial, a
and then I went for the open call
for the Lion King
where my mom's friend
Debra Cooper, took me to the
and I got picked out of 9,000
What did you do in the Pillsbury
I had to eat plain doughnuts and I
peel them off and dance with
them with four
What are your make-up and
Well my make up is pretty easy.
It only takes 10 minutes to get on.
My costume is fairly easy also.
I only have a body suit a corset
and a pair of leggings.
I don't have a puppet to carry and I
don't have a mask.
Did you ever see The Lion King,
I LOVE Lion King the movie.
I even cried when Mustafa died.
I saw it with my sister Latoya.
How do you get along with the
actor who plays the Young
We get along very well.
We don't really converse when
But after the show we talk a lot.
where r u from
I'm originally from New York,
Young Nala do you like being a
Yes. I love being a lion and it's a
for me because it's a challenge
and I can learn a lot from it.
How many brothers and sisters
do you have?
I have one sister Latoya and my
brother Tyreek and two
step sisters and a step brother
and a step sister
that come over every week
named Lenny and Celease.
Are they younger or older than
My sisters are 15. I'm the middle
child and my brother is 8.
What does your family think of you
being a star?
My family loves it.
Not all of my family has seen the
they're trying to get tickets!
i cried when Mustafa died to.
What's your favorite food?
Hi Holly. My favorite food is
Was it hard to learn all your lines?
Well, it wasn't really that hard after
the movie. And when I found out I
got the part
I got the tape.
Did you play any other animal
except for Young Nala?
Yes I do. I play an elephant at the
beginning and at the end
of the show.
What is your elephant costume
My elephant costume is really
heavy. It's grey.
And it has all the features of an
Do you have to change costumes
really fast in the show?
Well not really fast, but in a certain
amount of time so
I can get on stage.
Do you have people to help you?
Yes I have a dresser named
Celeste, Sheila and Suli.
Is it hard to get around in your
Not really. I'm pretty used to it.
Do you have a boyfriend?
Hi Meggy. No.
What does your name Kajuana
Well, it doesn't really have a
meaning so I made
up a meaning. It means entrance
is anyone ecle in your family in
No, but my Uncle Hakim is going
to college soon.
But he has to be in New York
before he starts in show biz.
How many hours of practice does
Well, I don't really practice
anymore but when I started
it was from 10 AM to 12 Midnight,
but I didn't have to
be there the whole day.
Did you get tired with the long
yeah. Sometimes I got really tired,
but it was a job that
I had to do so I stuck to it.
will you try and do more
Maybe. But not after I finish Lion
King because I want to go into
movies and sitcoms.
What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie...I don't have
I like a lot of movies.
Do you have any favorite TV
Yes. Although I don't get to watch
TV too much.
I like Moesha, Smart Guy,
Wayans Brothers, and Seventh
how do you like being a star
I love being a star.
what is your favorite disney
Because I'M Nala!
You're my favorite caracter from
the lion king
Thank you very much and maybe
one day I'll get
to see you too and write an
how long will you be playing young
nala on Broadway?
Well, I have a contract for more
than 2 inches! I think it goes
to November or August.
For anyone travelling to New York
City anytime soon,
remember that Kajuana and
Heather can be seen in
"The Lion King: The Broadway
at The New Amsterdam Theatre,
but be sure to make your plans
well in advance because
every night is a sellout.
This production, as directed by
the incredible Julie Taymor,
is the hottest ticket on Broadway
We now have Heather Headley
who plays Nala the Lioness with
us as well.
Heather, your voice is beautiful.
Where did you learn to sing?
I don't know. I think it's a gift from
I know it's a gift from God.
It started in church, and then
moved on to school.
My best rehearsal is on stage.
Did you have any idea this show
as going to be such a big hit?
Everyone said it was going to be.
But we never thought it was going
to be this much of a hit.
I'm still amazed every night at how
come to see it.
How many shows do you do per
I do all 8.
Kajuana gets off. She does 5
shows a week.
Her understudy gets to go on for
Don't you ever get tired?
I keep looking for things to work
What is it like working with Julie Taymor?
Julie Taymor. It was a quite an
She's a visualist.
Heather, you were wonderful in
Ragtime. Did you enjoy that
I loved it.
Ragtime took me out of
When I was finishing up my junior
I got asked to do Ragtime.
So Ragtime is my first love.
It's the first show that I did.
But I'm caught between two lovers
feeling like a fool.
What does it feel like to get so
many standing ovations?
It's scary now, because Kajuana
thinks its natural.
Now you expect the audience to
when you go to others shows
and the audience doesn't stand
you remember it's the audience's
way of saying
What do U suggest to other kidz
that want to be in a play?
I suggest that you just go for it
don't wait around.
You should go out for it and do it!
What is your favorite character,
besides yourself, in the show?
Um, My favorite character beside
that would have to be....Um...
Timon I think.
What was your reaction when you
heard you had been chosen for
I was really really happy and
they even remembered me and
remembered to call me back.
We have to let Kajuana leave so
she can get ready for tonight's
GOODBYE EVERYONE!!!! I
But Heather will still be with us for
a little longer.
How long did you rehearse before
the show opened?
we did three weeks in New York
then we took it to Minneapolis.
We teched for three weeks there.
And then we put it up.
I'd say it was a month and a half
before we put it up.
How much time does it take for
your make-up time?
Oh,.... bigeddy, I have a makeup person
and she takes about 15 minutes
to put the whole thing on
but I base-up and I do my eyes
before she comes in.
Heather...will Lion King ever go
I think Lion King will on tour one
I think the next company will open
in Japan though.
There's something to be said for
them to see it in theatre in New
It's part of the experience.
Is it exciting to be on Broadway?
Yes it is.
As a performer, it's where you
long to be.
But it's also a very frustrating
Did you always want to be an
I think I just wanted to perform first
The acting came out of that.
I've always wanted to be on stage
before I wanted to act.
What has been the hardest thing
about doing this show?
The physical aspect of it.
Trying to maintain being the best
How did you get picked to play Nala?
I was doing the other show across
the street, the competitor
and they came to ask me to
audition in Toronto
while I was doing the other show.
I did. And the rest is history.
What advice would you give other
young people interested in acting
I would say..
Be the best you can be.
Find those people you consider
and that the world considers
And study them.
Find out what you hate about their
and find out what you love about
Who did you study, Heather?
I find myself looking at a lot of
people like Robert Duvall and
John Travolta...the people who
won the Oscars this year.
I was fortunate enough
to have very good people
in front of me all the time.
So, I didn't have to look at the
and stuff like that
I was brought up around
We have 10 more minutes
remaining in our chat.
Were You Nerviouse to be on
Yes, yes yes
Do you ever get nervous in front of
all those people? If so, how do
you cope with this problem?
I got nervous on opening night.
I start praying.
And I try to think very affirming
now I get anxious rather than
The only time I get nervous is
when I'm sick.
what is your favorite song in the
Besides my own... it would be He lives in you.
And that was a hard one to
because I have 16 of them.
Which of your own songs?
It would be Shadowland.
how many hours a day do you
You know, the play haunts you.
The musical haunts you.
When I'm on the train I think about
Oh, you mean, how much do I
Now, I don't usually practice
unless I do something God awful.
How many people are in the cast?
We have 48 people on stage, but
there are forty two on stage.
There are much more than a
We have the best crew in back on
I've heard the dancing is
wonderful. Do you enjoy it?
Oh, dancing was done by my
And he's a concert choreographer
and all the dances from our show
are from Alvin Ailey.
Dance Theatre of Harlem
And he's spent many years in
many serious companies.
So the dancing is phenomenal.
What do you think of The New
I think it's the most beautiful
theatre I've ever seen
and ever performed in my life.
I saw the show and both of you
were incredible. Thank you for the
best night of theater I've ever
It means a lot to us.
It really does.
That's going to help me get
through the next two and a half
Thank you very much.
I really mean it.
I'm very sorry, everyone, but we've
run out of time for today's chat.
and come see us anytime you're
in New York.
We'll be under the big yellow lion.
I want to thank Kajuana Shuford
and Heather Headley,
stars of the hit show "The Lion
King: The Broadway Musical"
now playing at The New
Amsterdam Theatre in New York,
for visiting our Auditorium Chat
Thanks to all of you for your
participation and cooperation