I remember watching reruns of “The Wonderful World of Disney” wishing I could jump into the television set and play with all the characters on my screen. From Pinnochio to Peter Pan, they never let my imagination down.
Imagine, growing up and becoming a real-life Disney character onstage in one of the longest running shows to hit Broadway? That’s right, I had the time my life recreating the role my good friend Tracy Nicole Chapman created on Broadway and my idol Whoopi Goldberg created for the screen as “Shenzi” in the Original Los Angeles production of Disney’s “The Lion King”.
The show ran at the Pantages theatre in Hollywood for three years and afforded me the opportunity to work with the incomparable Julie Taymor, as well as, numerous cast members flown in from South Africa who are still dear friends of mine to this day.
Fast forward to 2015, CAA invites me to a screening of “The Prophet” based on Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer Kahlil Gibran’s book of 26 prose poetry essays written in English. It was originally published in 1923 by Alfred A. Knopf and to date is Gibran’s best known work.
The imagery and use of prose, music and animation in a narrative setting blew me away. The gamut of emotions I experienced ranged from euphoria to the ugly cry in a corner…in the dark. The narrative follows a young girl, Almitra (Quevenzhane’ Wallis), who after the death of her father, ceases to speak. Which is actually very reminiscent of Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, wherein after an extremely harrowing ordeal, Maya stops talking for years.
Almitra and her mother Kamila (Salma Hayek) befriend and protect Kamila’s employer Mustafa (Liam Neeson) as they evade the authorities who are fearful that’s Mustafa’s words and teachings will cause the people to emulate him, his strength in character and the need to fight for what is fair, just and right for themselves and others.
The illustration and detail to the artwork is spectacular and invokes that same magical feeling I felt when I saw “Fantasia” for the first time. That Disney classic also took a chance melting music and animation together for the first time on screen.
Afterwards, at a short reception, I felt compelled to let its producer and star (Salma Hayek) know how I felt, as well as the director (Roger Allers) who was in attendance. Salma Hayek is lovely, beautiful and a fantabulous business woman. When I expressed how I wanted to get the word out for this film, she put her arm around me, introduced me to her media team and instructed them to “take me seriously”.
However, it was the the director Roger Allers, whose name and face rang familiar to me. Why? He was also the director of “The Lion King”!!!!! Isn’t that wild??!!! so, as luck would have it, Roger did me a solid and let me interview him about the film. Take a listen and click on the link below, as well as watch the trailer for “The Prophet”. Before “The Secret” and “The Artists Way” there was Kahlil Gibran’s – “The Prophet”.