Owen Chaponda Talks … Disney’s The Lion King

In February Owen Chaponda joined the cast of Disney’s The Lion King West End production as Simba …

The Lion King is the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time, it features classic hits from the animated film, as well as brand-new numbers specifically written by Elton John and Tim Rice for the stage production.

We spoke to Chaponda who takes on the role opposite Merryl Ansah who joined as Nala spoke to us about taking on the role of Simba in one of the most spectacular musicals of all time …

Please introduce yourself …

My name is Owen Chaponda. I’m from South London, originally from Malawi in Africa. I’m going to be taking over the role of Simba in The Lion King. I’m an actor, singer, dancer, writer and poet.

Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence.

My life right now feels very aligned and full.

Tell us about The Lion King in your own words.

The Lion King is a story about a young cub who embarks on an incredible journey of self-discovery where he ultimately becomes king of the Pridelands.

Disneys The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre, London. Photo credit – Catherine Ashmore

What does Simba mean to you?

I think Simba is a channel for people to be seen all their imperfections and to know that that’s what makes them perfect; that they are enough. Whatever they are going through in life, there is always going to be light at the end of it. He’s a character that shows people – especially males – that it is ok to be vulnerable, to be sensitive, to have loss and to not always be strong for everyone. Simba showcases you can be both strong and vulnerable.

How does it feel to join the long list of people that have played this epic role?

I feel so honoured and blessed to be fortunate enough to be in a place where we can do these roles. It’s an incredible blessing.

Merryl Ansah & Owen Chapona. Photo credit – Disney

What have the highs and lows been of getting to where you are now?

The lows have been the rejections on the way but at the same time, a high is the same rejections. Trusting the process. At the time you go “Aw, man I wish …” but then you realise “Oh yeah, that was supposed to happen.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

What’s made you Sad, Mad, and Glad this week?

Sad, the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Glad, that I get to do this opportunity with Merryl, I think that’s very special. Mad, I haven’t had the chance to go to the cinema this week, that’s something I do every week religiously.

What are you watching right now?

You’re probably going to think I’m crazy but I’m watching Smallville. I’m obsessed.

What are you reading right now?

The Bible.

What are you listening to right now?

Jazz.

What is the last thing you saw on stage?

Mandela at the Young Vic, it was beautiful.

What’s one thing on your bucket list?

Skydive, which I want to do this year. And building a school is a dream of mine.

Whose footsteps are you following in?

I’m on my own individual journeys.

What’s next for you?

We’re about to go into rehearsals for The Lion King.


Owen Chaponda joined the cast of Disney’s The Lion King from Tuesday 9th May 2023.

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