By Sue Van Phan
Lea Salonga is a Filipina singer and actress who specializes in musical theatre. She is also one of the most well-known Broadway actresses to date. She is also well known for the singing voices of Jasmine and Mulan from the Disney princess animated films.
Just like most children growing up watching Disney animated movies, I was very happy and proud that Disney made a movie about Fa Mulan, the first Asian female warrior. I remembered when I first heard the song “Reflection” from Disney’s Mulan, it made me feel less alone because I could literally connect to the song that Mulan was singing. The way that Lea Salonga sings “Reflection” is really captivating and has a lot of emotion in it.
It’s also fascinating to realize that Lea Salonga successfully made it to the Broadway world given the fact that there are not many people of color in the performing arts field. Knowing the fact that Lea Salonga was the first Asian woman to break the stereotype is really inspiring. Not to mention she was one of my favorite actresses that inspired me to keep chasing my dreams no matter how
frightening it may be.
As for supplying the singing voice of Jasmine in Aladdin, it also contains a lot of emotion and depth to the song “A Whole New World”. Lea Salonga was able to bring another Disney princess song vibrantly to life. No matter how much I grow now, the songs that she sang in Mulan and Aladdin never get old. I admire how humble of an actress she became because whenever she performed she would always made sure to give it her best and remain humble. The fact that she was able to make it to Broadway really gave hopes to all Asian and Asian American girls and boys that look up on her as their role model. Broadway may not be one of the easiest industries to get into but Lea Salonga has already shown that if you believe in yourself enough you will make it to wherever you desire to be.
That might sound cliché but nothing worth having is ever easy. Therefore, through the dedication and hard work that Lea Salonga put in and the choices that she made to bring her to Broadway to continue and pursue her dream even further. In fact, it also shows how dedicated and disciplined
Asian and Asian Americans are because after overcoming all the obstacles we eventually come out to be much stronger individuals than we started off as. It is as if both being dedicated and disciplined have been embedded into our genes. No matter how impossible or difficult the path is, Asian and Asian Americans never give up and will continue pushing themselves harder to reach their goals.
To this day, Lea Salonga still remains an icon for many aspiring Asian and Asian Americans performing artists. She gives off a sense and aura in her that anything is possible if you are dedicated, disciplined and determined enough to succeed. Hopefully in the near future the theatre world will begin to be more diverse and show more performances of various cultures as well as backgrounds from around the world. That way people will be able to understand and appreciate each other’s cultures more.