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Shahadi Wright Joseph
Shahadi Wright Joseph.jpg
Born April 29, 2005 (2005-04-29) (age 16)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation
  • Actress
  • singer
  • dancer
Years active 2013–present

Shahadi Wright Joseph (born April 29, 2005) is an American actress, singer, and dancer. She is best known for her starring role in Jordan Peele's horror film Us (2019) and as the voice for Young Nala in Jon Favreau's musical film The Lion King (2019).

Early life

Joseph was born in Brooklyn, New York. She has been dancing since the age of two. She once auditioned for a school play in third grade using Lupita Nyong'o's Academy Award acceptance speech.

Career

Joseph's first major acting role came when she was cast as young Nala in the Broadway musical adaptation The Lion King, at nine years old. Joseph appeared as Madison, an original cast member in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation School of Rock. In 2016, she appeared as Little Inez Stubbs in the NBC musical television special Hairspray Live!, which earned positive reviews.

In 2018, she began starring in the podcast Six Minutes. She plays the lead, Holiday.

In November 2017, it was announced Joseph would reprise her role as young Nala in the 2019 remake of The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau. She chose to work on the film because she sees the character as a role model who inspires young girls. Upon learning that Beyoncé would be voicing grown-up Nala, Joseph stated that she was motivated to work harder and consider how Beyoncé would approach the role.

Also in 2019, Joseph starred in the supernatural horror film Us, which was directed by Jordan Peele. She read for the dual role of Zora and Umbrae the three times before being offered the part. The film earned critical acclaim and was a box office success. Her performance earned her numerous award nominations, including for a Saturn Award and a Critics' Choice Movie Award.

Joseph had a starring role as Ruby Lee Emory in the Amazon Prime Video horror drama series Them. The series was released in April 2021, to generally positive reviews.

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
2019 Us Zora Wilson / Umbrae
2019 The Lion King Young Nala (voice)

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2016 Hairspray Live! Little Inez Stubbs Television special
2021 Them Ruby Lee Emory 10 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2019 Saturn Awards Best Performance by a Younger Actor Us Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
2020 Hollywood Critics Association Awards Next Generation of Hollywood Won
Critics' Choice Awards Best Young Performer Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Youth Performance Nominated
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Female Breakthrough Performance Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Breakthrough Role in a Motion Picture Nominated
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