'Lion King' Actress Can Already See Her Name in Lights
By Avis Thomas-Lester
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 25, 2007; B02
NEW YORK At 11, NicKayla Tucker knows she'll be a big star someday.
As an actress who has amassed a respectful resume, the Laurel girl is preparing to make her debut tomorrow as the young lioness Nala in "The Lion King" on Broadway, just after Julian Ivey, 12, of Cheverly, ends his run playing Simba.
The role of Nala follows several other notable performances for NicKayla, who attended Lake Arbor Elementary School in Mitchellville from first through fourth grade. She performed at Madison Square Garden in the national touring company of the musical "Annie." She has auditioned several times for TV series in Los Angeles.
"I have always wanted to be an actress," the sixth-grader says. "I was watching 'Showtime at the Apollo' with my grandmother when I was, like, 3. I said, 'Mom-Mom, I want to do that!' She said, 'One day, baby girl.' "
As she rehearsed for Nala about five hours a day during the past month, NicKayla also waited as her agent and manager shopped her to TV production companies in Los Angeles, hoping to secure her a part in a TV pilot.
Singing since age 2 and acting since 3, NicKayla debuted at the Apollo when she was 4, performing a gospel song. She won first place in three competitions, then finished second in the final contest. She has won first place in two pageants for talented children and is waiting until she turns 13 to enter a third.
For her stint on Broadway, she and her grandmother, Phyllis Tucker-Saunders, have settled into an apartment near Times Square and the theater where she will work for several months. Next week, she'll begin going to a local Catholic school, missing class on matinee days. She'll perform four times a week.
"New York is not really new to me, because I come up here to audition all the time," she says, smoothing her jeans. "What I love is the fast pace. I really love the vibe of the city. I think I'm already a total New Yorker."
After her run on Broadway, she and Tucker-Saunders will move to Los Angeles to be near TV studios. Her mother, Ardia Tucker, a real estate agent, visits frequently when her daughter is out of town.
Although she has definite plans to be an actress, NicKayla has other ambitions as well.
"I want to be an alternative medication doctor, a doctor who treats people with herbs and things like that," she said. "And I want to be an actress, a singer and a dancer. And I'm also hoping to be the first black president of the United States."
Posted on Aug 27, 2007, 4:03 PM from IP address 18.104.22.168