Broadway’s ‘The Lion King’ is facing lawsuit for allegedly firing sign language interpreter for being White

A White sign language interpreter is suing the Broadway hit show “The Lion King” for his alleged firing based on the color of his skin.

Keith Wann, an ASL interpreter, said he received an email from the Theater Development Fund accessibility programs on April 2 noting that “it’s no longer appropriate to have White interpreters represent Black characters for ASL Broadway shows.”

Wann and his attorney Josh Pepper joined “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning to discuss the case.

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When explained that after he was invited to fill in for BIPOC interpreters, he received the email releasing him from the job a few days later.

“I just looked at it and said, ‘What they’re saying here — I think this is illegal,'” he said.

The Minskoff Theater advertises “The Lion King” on West 44th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue on Oct. 3, 2008 in New York City. The show opened on Broadway in November 1997.
(Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Pepper described the case as “pretty straightforward,” since the email “pretty much” admits that “The Lion King” retracted its offer because Wann is White, according to the attorney.

“There is a statute … that says people have the right to contract regardless of their race,” said Pepper.

Sign language interpreter Keith Wann (left) and his attorney John Pepper joined

Sign language interpreter Keith Wann (left) and his attorney John Pepper joined “Fox and Friends” on Nov. 14, 2022, to discuss Wann’s firing from “The Lion King” allegedly because of his race.
(Fox News)

“It was a Reconstruction Era statute that was intended to protect the former slaves — to protect Black people from not being able to have their businesses.”

The attorney said the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that White people could sue under this statute as well.

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The decision was written by the only Black Supreme Court justice at the time, Thurgood Marshall.

Josh Tower as Simba in the Broadway musical

Josh Tower as Simba in the Broadway musical “The Lion King” performs for tour and travel operators at the 2005 PowWow Convention at the Javits Center in New York.
(Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis via Getty Images)

“We think it’s a strong case that they refuse to give him this job because he is White,” he said.

“The statute says you can’t do that, so we want to recover the money that he would’ve been paid.”

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While when was reportedly set to make $1,000 per show, he said he ultimately decided to sue because “wrong is wrong.”

Tshidi Mayne as Rafiki in Disney's Broadway show

Tshidi Mayne, as Rafiki in Disney’s Broadway show “The Lion King,” stands outside the Minskoff Theater in New York City on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007.
(Jennifer S. Altman/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“The decision they sent in the email was wrong,” he said.

“If you insert a different color, if you insert a different race, it is wrong. You are not allowed to fire somebody because of that reason,” added Wann.

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When mentioned that there’s been “some false narrative” that claims the interpreter is attempting to “push into this space that is not [his] space.”

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“There was a team established. They were asking me to come in and help them out,” When said.

“Fox & Friends” noted that it reached out to the Theater Development Fund for comment on this situation, but it did not hear back.

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