- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2002

Kiah Victoria, a 10-year-old from Cheverly, will be playing the young Nala in the Broadway musical production of "The Lion King" this fall.
Originally an animated Disney movie, "The Lion King" chronicles the story of a lion cub named Simba who one day will take over the kingdom. Simba's uncle, Scar, who also aspires to the throne, meanwhile creates some problems. Nala is Simba's childhood companion and future mate.
"Three years ago, I started singing," Kiah says. "My parents heard me [and] they [brought] me to things so I could do stuff with my voice and acting. I just sang because I wanted to, but when my parents told me I was good, I wanted to see what I could do with it."
The Victorias got an agent for Kiah in February, who informed the family about "The Lion King" auditions. In March, Kiah and her father, Adruma Victoria, traveled to New York City for the tryouts. "She had a very powerful audition," says Mr. Victoria, a professional musician. "[The judges] told her, 'You're a miracle. Where did you come from? You're fantastic.'"
Competing against hundreds of children nationwide, Kiah received three more callbacks. Her parents were told May 3 that she had won the part. "When I found out," Mr. Victoria says, "I screamed in the hallways, 'Kiah got Broadway.'"
"We are so excited," says his wife, Fiona, who works as office administrator at New Hope Academy, a private school in Landover Hills. Kiah took drama and after-school classes there while also attending Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary School in Cheverly.
"I was really happy," Kiah says. "I love performing arts and stuff. I just felt like this is what I should be doing. I don't want anything else as much as this."
Although this is her first Broadway appearance, Kiah is not new to the stage. She has performed several times in New York, Connecticut and Maryland. "She told me that acting is her life," her father says.
Kiah hopes to go to the Juilliard School in New York to "get lessons and get better." She wants to pursue both screen and stage acting. "It's just what I like to do," she says.
Joy Morrow, New Hope Academy's principal, is excited about Kiah's opportunity. "We are very proud of Kiah," she says, "and hope that she wows them on Broadway."
Kiah and her father, a native New Yorker from Harlem, will be staying in New York City for the duration of her six-month contract. Rehearsals begin in early July, and Kiah will debut Aug. 6.
Born in Berlin, she is the youngest of four children.
Mr. Victoria also has had experience auditioning. "I only got one callback," he says. "My daughter just went from zero to 100 in one, two, three."
Linda Townsend, Kiah's agent and president of Linda Townsend Management in Clinton, has managed athletes and actors for more than 30 years. "She's a very good little actress," she says. "This is going to be a wonderful learning experience for her. She's a little girl on an adventure, starting a career that could be very exciting."
"The Lion King" has been on Broadway since Nov. 17, 1997. It has won numerous Tony Awards, including for best musical, best choreography, best director and best scenic design.


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