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Janique Charles on telling stories through acting, singing, and writing

Winterson’s actress, Janique Charles, is currently playing Nala in Disney’s Lion King Musical in the West End, having previously performed in the UK Tour of the show. Passionate about storytelling in all its forms, the actress also writes music and short stories. Here, she talks to us about her journey in the industry so far, and what she might like to do next in her career.    

Please introduce us to your background with The Lion King… 
“I’ve been in the West End show for two years,” says Charles. “I started in 2016, but I’ve been playing Nala for one year. I’ve always wanted to work for Disney, and I got offered the opportunity to work for the Lion King UK Tour when I was 18, and that was my first time being in the UK. I wasn’t in London yet, but I was in the UK. And then later on I joined the Lion King at the Lyceum here in London.”

“Disney changed my life and it was performing in the show that strengthened my belief in myself that I could actually be an artist beyond anything that I’ve ever dreamed!”

With talents across acting, singing, and writing, the actress points out the importance of telling relevant stories across all mediums.
“Storytelling is definitely my passion, whether it’s through singing or acting, dance, or writing – it’s all about sharing my story with others, or a story of a character.”

“Just the entire process, regardless of the medium, is enjoyable to me. I think I’m just a creative at heart. When I was younger I thought singing would be my only thing, but then I fell in love with acting and then I fell in love with dance, and then I fell in love with writing music and short stories as well. [Writing] is something that I’ve always done since I was child. Recently I’ve started picking it up again, but seriously. And it’s mainly fiction, just random ideas come to me, and I enjoy it.”

How did your relationship with Winterson’s come about?
“Niki Winterson found me at my show. She came to see me at the theatre, and sought me out after that. And first of all I was really touched by that, like you actually go out of your way to find out ‘Do you have representation?’ And what she relayed to me was that she thought I was very talented and I thought, ‘I think you’re right!’”

“She seemed really, really keen on representing me and helping me along my journey, which is being not just one thing of an actress, or a dancer, but a creative who wants to fulfil her life’s dreams. And I didn’t have an agent so I said yes. Because she and just very passionate and I felt that energy from her and her team., and I felt like a safety with them. Like they were being genuine. And that’s when I decided ok yeah, these are the people I’m going to go with.”

As somebody who is already performing in such a high-profile West End role, where might you like to go next in your career?
“I’ve never been on the screen really before. It’s definitely just a new area for me to be in, but it’s always been one of my dreams. So I would definitely jump straight into it and do the best that I can, while enjoying it. But yeah it’s definitely something that I wanna do throughout my life.”

“I mean part of it obviously I want to perform my own songs that I’ve written. I feel like when it comes to presenting yourself as an artist out there to the public, they need to be able to see you as one certain type of package. Like Beyonce for example she’s an R&B/Pop singer… if she started doing like hard heavy metal that might be like ok that’s out of order.”

And creatively, how would you describe your music and writing talents?
“So to present myself as such I would say that I’m an R&B/Pop artist as well. Obviously I’m from the Caribbean and that influences my music, but the songwriting part of it specifically, I just love writing and telling stories and that knows no boundaries. So I would write for myself, I would also write for other people, and those songs that I write can span across different genres – it could be musical theatre, it could be country, could be dancehall, reggae, just anything that comes to me.”

You can see Janique performing an exclusive studio version of Lion King song Shadowlands here.