The Lion King is so much more than just an epic musical for children. Weaved into the story’s beautiful narrative of family pride and tradition is a beautiful love story—both in the animated classic and in the long-running Broadway adaptation.
Shining a spotlight on the love the story, which first hit the stage in 1997, are cast members Lindiwe Dlamini and Bongi Duma who not only star in the production but fell in love during it’s run.
In a Q&A with ESSENCE, the couple shared how they met, how their culture impacted their courtship and the beauty the Lion King has brought to their lives.
ESSENCE: How did you two meet?
Bongi Duma: We actually met in 2004 when I first came here. I joined the company from Germany. What you call ‘dating,’ back in our culture, they do differently than what you do here. I guess we started as friends and then we ended up here! We would all go out to eat in New York. She took me to show me art and showed me the city. I think that was a way of tricking me.
ESSENCE: What is it like working together?
Lindiwe Dlamini: “It’s been really exciting, [to] get to work together. We don’t have to be in the situation where he doesn’t understand what I’m going through and I won’t understand what he’s going through; we share the same kind of feelings when it comes to that. When you’re here, you don’t have your family. We’re from South Africa so it’s just you and people you work with [and] in the Lion King, it always feels like family. People are involved when somebody’s getting engaged. We always say to each other we are a boring couple because we enjoy just being together and being at home from work and relaxing, but we like to go out and do things outside of the Lion King… Like on Monday[s], that’s the only day off we have so we usually find time for each other not including the Lion King, and do things that are out of the norm and just go and have fun around where we live.”
ESSENCE: Is it difficult to balance being married to each other and working together?
LD: “It’s not as hard to work together. When we’re in the show, we usually don’t even communicate that much. We don’t talk about what’s going on in our family life…As soon as we walk into the building, I usually tell him, ‘I don’t know you right now. We are at work!’ Most of the people, when they come in, they don’t know we’re married because we try very hard [to] have fun and not be on each other a lot ’cause it can be frustrating, I think. So, we try to have a little bit of freedom when we get to the theater.”
ESSENCE: What makes your bond so magical?
LD: “We share the same culture. We have so many things similar. We come from the same neighborhood. We know each other’s relatives and friends back home. We really come from the same place in our hometown. We didn’t know until we met, that we both knew each other and that our families knew each other back home. Because of that, it adds to [our relationship]. We share the same things.”
ESSENCE: Where are you all from?
BD: “We’re from Devon, which is a city down the coast, just a couple of miles down from Johannesburg. So, Devon, in the township called Elan.”
The couple tied the knot in 2007 and welcomed their daughter, Zikhona. Since then, the two have made their personal and professional lives blend beautifully.
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