Sign-language interpreter says he was ousted from job on Broadway's 'The Lion King' because he is white
- Interpreter Keith Wann is suing Theatre Development Fund for reportedly firing him based on race.
- Wann said he was asked to not intrepret 'The Lion King' Broadway show in April because he is white.
A white sign-language interpreter is suing Theatre Development Fund, for discrimination – alleging the Broadway show fired him because of his race.
Theatre Development Fund, or TDF, a nonprofit that supplies Broadway shows with its American Sign Language interpreters, asked Keith Wann, 53, and at least one other interpreter to leave the April production of "The Lion King."
According to the New York Post, the organization decided it was "no longer appropriate to have white interpreters represent Black actors in Broadway shows."
On Tuesday, Wann responded with a federal-discrimination lawsuit against TDF and its director of accessibility programs, Lisa Carling.
According to the lawsuit, Carling asked Wann and another white interpreter, Christina Mosleh, to step down from the show so TDF could replace them with Black sign-language interpreters.
"To me, just seeing that discrimination, it doesn't matter if I'm white or Black," Wann said, the New York Post reported. "This is blatant and I would just hope that other people who have also experienced this would step forward."
Wann took the gig in March, and it paid $1,000 per show, MSN reported. Just days later, Wann said he received an email from Carling asking him and Mosleh to back out of the show due to "the current social climate."
"With great embarrassment and apologies, I'm asking you both to please back out of interpreting the show for us on Sunday, April 24," Carling wrote, according to the New York Post report. "I don't see any other way out of this. It seems like the best solution."
Though Carling asked Wann and the other interpreter to step down, the suit cites an email alleging Shelly Guy, the show's director of ASL, made the decision to terminate non-Black interpreters from work on "The Lion King."
Wann's career as a Broadway interpreter spans a decade. He said he has interpreted for a diverse group of characters including those played by Black actors.
"I lost sleep over it," Wann told the New York Post. "Wrong is wrong."
Neither Wann nor TDF immediately responded to Insider's request for comment.
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