Shannon Tavarez

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Shannon Tavarez
Shannon Tavarez.jpg
Shannon Skye Tavarez

January 20, 1999
DiedNovember 1, 2010(2010-11-01) (aged 11)
Cause of deathAcute myeloid leukemia
OccupationActress, Singer
Years active2005 - 2010
Parent(s)Odiney Brown (mother), Jose Tavarez (father)
RelativesSehai Malia (sister)

Shannon Skye Tavarez (January 20, 1999 – November 1, 2010) was an American child actress and singer. She appeared in the Broadway theatre production of The Lion King by Walt Disney Theatrical, where she played the role of the young lion cub Nala.

Personal life[edit]

Tavarez was a resident of Bellerose, Queens, New York City, and attended P.S. 176. Cambria Heights[1][2] She was chosen to play the role of Nala after a cattle call audition in 2008 at the Apollo Theater.[1] She became one of two girls who split the role, with each girl performing four shows weekly. Several months after debuting in the show in September 2009, she was forced to leave the production after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. The daughter of an African American mother and a Dominican father,[3] Tavarez faced much greater difficulty in attempts to find a match for a bone marrow transplant as minorities are significantly underrepresented in donor registries, despite efforts by such performers as Alicia Keys, Rihanna, and 50 Cent to recruit prospective donors from among their fans. Tavarez was only able to find a partial bone marrow donor.[1][4][5] Prior to the umbilical cord transplant she was undergoing chemotherapy.[6]

Death and legacy[edit]

On November 1, 2010, Tavarez died at the age of 11 at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, due to acute myeloid leukemia.[1] The lights at the Minskoff Theatre, where The Lion King was playing, were dimmed the night she died.[2] In a statement released following her daughter's death, Odiney Brown said that "Shannon's dream was to perform on stage, and that she did."[7]

Tavarez's funeral was held at Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Queens, New York.[8]

A year after her death Tavarez's mother started Shannon's S.H.A.R.E Foundation.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Weber, Bruce. "Shannon Tavarez, Nala in ‘Lion King’, Dies at 11", The New York Times, November 3, 2010. Accessed November 3, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Croghan, Lore. "Young 'Lion King' star Shannon Tavarez recalled as 'selfless' day after death", Daily News (New York), November 3, 2010. Accessed November 3, 2010.
  3. ^ Young Lion King star Shannon Tavarez loses leukemia battle from The Daily Mail 2 November 2010.
  4. ^ via Associated Press. "Bone-marrow donors line up to help ailing “Lion King” actress, 11", The Denver Post, July 23, 2010. Accessed November 28, 2017. "Dr. Larry Wolfe, Tavarez's physician, says she will need a bone-marrow transplant but hasn't found the perfect match. Wolfe says a partial match has been found, but a better one is being sought."
  5. ^ Katz, Neil. "Lion King Actress' Transplant Miracle? Will Cord Blood Save Shannon Tavarez's Life?", CBS News, August 19, 2010. Accessed November 28, 2017. "But Shannon's doctors didn't give up. On Tuesday, they tried another approach. They performed an umbilical-cord blood transplant at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y."
  6. ^ "Broadway to hold drive for sick 'Lion King' star", NBC News, July 22, 2010. Accessed November 28, 2017. "Instead, the 78-pound actress lay curled on a hospital bed as a doctor injected her spine with her first dose of chemotherapy."
  7. ^ Nudd, Tim. "Rihanna Mourns Shannon Tavarez", People (magazine), November 3, 2010. Accessed November 3, 2010.
  8. ^ Nudd, Tim. "Shannon Tavarez Lovingly Remembered at Funeral", People (magazine), November 9, 2010. Accessed November 28, 2017. "Hundreds of friends, family members and fellow performers gathered at the Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Queens to remember a big-hearted girl with talent to match, who fell ill just months after getting her big break in The Lion King."
  9. ^ Croghan, Laurie. "Fundraiser honors the memory of Lion King actress Shannon Tavarez, who drew 15,000 marrow donors", New York Daily News, November 6, 2011. Accessed November 28, 2017. "The little Lion King cub whose brave battle against leukemia drew nearly 15,000 new bone marrow donors and the support of stars like 50 Cent, Alicia Keys and Rihanna will be remembered Monday night with a fundraiser. Shannon's S.H.A.R.E. Foundation gala and auction, set for the Juliet Supperclub in Chelsea, will honor the memory of Shannon Tavarez, a Bellerose, Queens, soprano who played Young Nala in the popular Disney musical. "

External links[edit]