Lea Salonga, First Multi-Awarded Filipina Broadway Actress
Lea Salonga is best known for playing Kim, the lead role in the musical Miss Saigon, which earned her the Oliver, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Theatre World Best Actress Awards. This made her the first Filipina ever to have won such prestigious awards.
Aside from this monumental role, Salonga was also the very first Asian actress to have been billed for the roles of both Eponine and Fantine in the Broadway musical Les Miserables. She played the roles during the 10th and 25th anniversary of the show in London, respectively.
The singer-actress also immortalized the singing voices of two Disney Princesses, Jasmine and Mulan for the animations Aladdin and Mulan, shown in 1992 and 1998, respectively. As a result for these works with the Walt Disney Company, Salonga got the Disney Legend award in 2010.
Now, 43 years old, Lea Salonga can be described as having had a lengthy and rewarding journey in the music and entertainment industries. Having started her career at the tender age of seven years old when she starred in the musical King and I with the Repertory Philippines, Lea has gone a long way in letting the country and the world know that she has a huge and hauntingly beautiful voice inside her diminutive frame.
The multi-awarded performer has already performed for the likes of the US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush as well as her Highness Queen Elizabeth II. But, before she was noticed internationally, she was just a simple young girl with a great voice who recorded her very first album, Small Voice, when she was still 10. She also appeared in other Filipino adaptations of such musicals as Annie and Sound of Music and even became a child and teen actor in Philippine TV and movies.
It was when she was 17 though and sang the well-known song, On My Own from Les Miserables during audition for Miss Saigon that she started her journey towards international acclaim. As Kim, Salonga won the Olivier Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical in 1990. When Miss Saigon was moved from London to Broadway, the young actress, who was the first ever to play Kim, then proceeded to get for herself the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and the Theatre World awards. She continued to play Kim periodically in Broadway between 1993 and 1996 and was invited to close the musical in London in 1999. In 2001, Salonga was also the one who closed the production of Miss Saigon in Broadway.
After having had numerous concerts and performances with other well-known names in the entertainment and music industries and still going strong at that, Salonga is also now in her element discovering new talent as judge in the Philippines’ own franchise of The Voice. It can definitely be said that singer-actress’ small voice is not so small after all and is still taking her to heights that are making her light continue to shine bright in the world.
Lea Salonga, First Multi-Awarded Filipina Broadway Actress by Holly Bissonnette