From her Tony Award-winning role in Miss Saigon in the '80s, to her portrayal of not one but two Disney princesses, Lea Salonga has established herself as a breakthrough star. Salonga has performed before six presidents in her native Philippines, the late Princess Di and three U.S. presidents.
Lea Salonga's background
Lea Salonga got her start in musical theater back home in the Philippines as a child star. She secured her first role in 1978, appearing in The King & I at the tender age of seven. She went on to play starring roles in a litany of musicals, including Annie, Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music. In 1981, she released her debut album, Small Voice, which received a gold certification in the Philippines. She was just 10 years old. Three of the songs from her second album, 1988's Lea, hit the Philippine Top 40.
The turning point icame in 1989, when she was cast as Kim in the debut production of Miss Saigon, staged in London. She reprised the role on Broadway two years later. She became the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award. She was also showered with a variety of other awards, including the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards, as well as a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical.
In 1992, she was tapped to sing as Princess Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin; her rendition of "A Whole New World" remains one of Disney's most beloved songs to date. She returned to Disney in 1998 to provide the voice of Fa Mulan in Mulan. In 1993, Salonga became the first woman of Asian heritage to play Eponine in Broadway's production of Les Miserables.
Lea Salonga's recent work
Salonga continues to be very active in the musical world, but her involvement goes far beyond concert performances. Currently, she serves as a judge on the Philippine edition of the hit reality television show, The Voice.