'Lion King' Actress Shannon Tavarez Dies at 11

Filed under: Celeb Kids, In The News, Health & Safety: Tweens, Celeb News & Interviews

shannon tavarez

Shannon Tavarez starred as Young Nala in "The Lion King." Credit: Rick Maiman, AP

Shannon Tavarez, a young soprano who starred in 'The Lion King' on Broadway, has died at age 11 after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia, Broadway World is reporting. The actress played Young Nala from September 2009 until April, when she began feeling pain in her lower back and legs. Soon, the emerging star was diagnosed and the search for a donor began.

Doctors were unable to find a match for a bone-marrow transplant, so as an alternative, she received umbilical-cord blood treatment in August. Since leaving 'The Lion King,' Tavarez had undergone extensive chemotherapy and had been staying at a New York City hospital.

Her story drew the attention of numerous celebrities, including Alicia Keys and Rihanna, who led campaigns to find a bone-marrow match for Tavarez.

Tavarez got the role of Young Nala after wowing producers at her first open audition. According to Broadway World, she attended Harlem School of the Arts for vocals and piano and started singing at age 3.

In 'The Lion King,' Young Nala and Young Simba sing the bouncy song 'I Just Can't Wait to Be King.'

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