Keith Wann Stated That He Was Fired From “The Lion King” Due To His Skin Color

Keith Wann, a comedian and performance artist, said that his skin tone was the reason he was fired from The Lion King on Broadway. Keith was one of two persons asked to leave the production when the organization Theater Development Fund said that white interpreters would not be allowed to perform black roles in ASL Broadway musicals.

On November 8, Wann filed a discrimination case against Lisa Carling, the head of accessibility initiatives. The complaint and emails in which Carling ordered Wann and interpreter Christina Mosleh to cease performing so that they may be replaced with black sign language practitioners were acquired by the New York Post. In response to the case, he informed the publication:

“Seeing that prejudice doesn’t matter if I’m white or black to me.” This is obvious, and I’m hoping that more individuals who have had similar experiences will come forward.”

In March of this year, Keith Wann was requested to work on the play. He was taken aback when Carling wrote him and another translator an email requesting them to leave the program. According to the email:

“With much humiliation and regret, I’m requesting that you both withdraw from translating the concert for us on Sunday, April 24.” There is no other way out of this. It seems to be the best option.”

Carling made the decision to remove Wann when the ASL director for The Lion King, Shelly Guy, begged her to do so. Guy informed Carling in April 2022 that the majority of the characters in the play were played by black performers and that the story was set in Africa. Guy believes that, although Wann is an excellent actor, he is not black and hence should not portray the Lion King.

Keith Wann

Keith Wann was dismissed the following day, despite having earned $1,000 for his performance. He stopped responding to Carling’s emails and phone calls as he considered his options before choosing to take the case to Manhattan Federal Court. Mosleh has yet to answer, while Theatre Development Fund, Carling, Guy, and Disney Theatrical Productions all refused to comment.

Keith Wann has had a long association with ASL.

Keith Wann was born to deaf parents on January 4, 1969. In 2002, he made his debut with the ASL Improve Group, and in 2004, he launched his solo career. He rose to prominence after posting an ASL video spoof of Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby on YouTube.

Keith Wann is an ASL performer who has performed in various short films. He has also been in Pepsi ads and television series such as Law & Order and Quantico. He presently works as a writer and performer for Sign It! American Sign Language Made Simple. Wann even flies to the United States every weekend to do his solo performance and the ASL comedy tour.

Keith Wann

He also gives seminars and is an ASL advocate. Wann and his wife Emilia joined LegalShield as independent associates and are presently traveling around the country to provide the ASL community with simple access to the legal system. Wann also gives seminars, and some ASL students have taken advantage of his monthly ASL song club to learn sign language in a creative manner. He has performed in several Broadway productions, including School of Rock, Noises Off, West Side Story, Shrek: The Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, and others. Keith Wann collaborated with Sia on her song video, Soon We’ll Be Found, and as an ASL artist, he has created several solo performances in addition to presenting the ASL Comedy Tour for a decade.

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