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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Wann 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.
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.
“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.
“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 Wann was reportedly set to make $1,000 per show, he said he ultimately decided to sue because “wrong is wrong.”
“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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Wann 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,” Wann said.
“Fox & Friends” noted that it reached out to the Theater Development Fund for comment on this situation, but it did not hear back.