Resident Fulfills Dream With Lion King“Never, ever, ever give up, always strive to be better and the number one thing is to always have faith,” states former Valrico resident Danyelle Williamson, 24, regarding advice she would instill to aspiring actors, having recently obtained the role of Nala in Disney’s The Lion King.

Having scored the role of Nala, Simba’s future mate, Williamson, who has been preparing for the role since April, says, “I immediately started crying when I found out I got the part. I had prayed for a challenge…This was confirmation for me from God to take on a new role.” The talented, vibrant actress has worked hard to get where she is having graduated cum laude from the Boston Conservatory, and before that, gaining honors at Blake High School in Musical Theatre. From there, she moved to New York working daily to find roles, living off her savings which came to an end a month-and-a-half later when she was cast as Elphaba in the stage performance Wicked. But not before having to return home to live in Valrico. And from there, the rest is history, as she went on to play Nala a year-and-a-half later.

So what’s it like being onstage performing in The Lion King? “It’s awesome, so cool,” exclaims Williamson who reminisced about her past performance as The Lion King’s Rafiki at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center for the Eddie Awards, a teachers’ awards ceremony, held back in the day when she was a tenth grade student at Blake High School, pointing out the sense of fate in her life. “This is a great show. It has so much love and strength and sends out such a positive message,” says Williamson.

“Acting empowers me. Being able to change people’s lives, making them feel uplifted or encouraged some way by our performance, that’s what makes it great,” concludes the up and coming dancer, singer and vocalist. Besides spending time with family and friends, working out, singing, eating, computer playing, reading and writing, Williamson confesses that her number one hobby is sleeping. And who could blame her after the weekly stint of performing! The future aspirations of this persevering actress include one day gracing the corridors of a London stage.

The Lion King performance will take place until June 22 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center located at 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place in Tampa. Tickets can be purchased at

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Carisa is a Senior News Reporter and Assistant Editor at the Osprey Observer. When she's not at work, she continues to write, working on future projects; hangs out with friends and family, her best friend (aka her husband) and her four dogs.