NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Keith Wann, a White man who was kicked out from Broadway’s ‘The Lion King’ for his skin color has settled his federal discrimination case outside court against the theater group. The sign-language interpreter, provided by a non-profit organization Theatre Development Fund who employ American Sign Language interpreters for Broadway shows, came to the decision just two weeks after filing a lawsuit, which got the attention of several media outlets instantly.
“The matter between myself and TDF has been resolved and both parties are satisfied with the discussions that ensued. I look forward to the review of the process that will come from this to hopefully benefit the interpreting profession,” Wann wrote as he announced the settlement in a social media post. Wann went to court on November 8, when he and his colleague, Christina Mosleh, also an interpreter, were told to quit the production in April, to make room for Black sign experts, claimed the suit and emails accessed by the New York Post.
“Keith Wann, though an amazing ASL performer, is not a black person and therefore should not be representing Lion King,” Shelly Guy, the director of ASL for ‘The Lion King’, told the director of the Theatre Development Fund’s accessibility programs, via an email.
Wann faced a lot of criticism from the deaf community online for taking the matter to the court. “You disgusted me,” Randy Spann, a host of the deaf talk show ‘The Real Talk with Randy’, said in a video reaction. “Enough is enough. Let black people get their opportunities to get a spotlight,” Spann added.
Deaf performer Raven Sutton also slammed Wann for his decision to sue the theatre group in a viral TikTok video he posted. “This is not discrimination,” Sutton signed on the video that was viewed by over 57,000 users. “Reverse racism is not a thing. Stop taking all the jobs when we have black interpreters that are the better fit. Wipe your own white tears because we are not going to do it for you,” Sutton further said.
Wann also got support from much of the deaf community, one of them being Jared Allebest, a deaf civil rights attorney. “I’m baffled by the hate,” Allebest reacted. “There are some people justifying why they don’t support him through the lens of racial identity politics,” he added, as per the report.
Wann in a statement this week, addressed the backlash he faced online and argued his lawsuit was legit, “Over the last week I have seen a lot of pain in our community and have also seen some much-needed conversations. It is unfortunate that assumptions were made, and conclusions were drawn without all the facts.”
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