Quick Q&A With Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga

Courtesy Kusie Ho

Have you been to Indy before?
Yes, one of my cousins lives near the theater that looks like a giant wedding cake [the Palladium] in Carmel, so I try to see her whenever I visit.

You were 18 when you starred in the London production of Miss Saigon. What do you wish someone had told you before you took the role?
Don’t take it so seriously that you stop living your life. Don’t forget to have fun.

What was the most challenging thing about that role?
It’s two and a half hours of singing, and you don’t really stop. It goes up and down my entire range.

How does it feel to be best known for a character you played nearly three decades ago?
On the one hand, it’s like, Did my career peak at the age of 28? But it’s also nice to be remembered for something that is considered a classic—I still love singing that music.

When did your daughter learn that you were the singing voice of Jasmine and Mulan in the Disney films?
As she was growing up, she was always aware that Mommy sang for Jasmine and Mulan, but they aren’t her favorite Disney princesses. She likes Tiana from The Princess and the Frog and Rapunzel from Tangled.

What can Hollywood do to increase opportunities for minority actresses like you?
I think there just needs to be more stuff written for people who look like me. The thing about Crazy Rich Asians was that it was so specific in its locale and its language, but every person who watched it was able to find someone to relate to. We need more films like that.

You’ve covered some Hamilton songs. What would your dream role in that musical be?
As beautiful as the Eliza songs are, there’s just something so confident and badass about Angelica. Hamilton is a show that I think every actor wants to be a part of, whether or not they’re actually right for it.

Who has the best singing voice you’ve ever heard?
I love Elaine Paige, Barbra Streisand, and Ramin Karimloo. In the pop world, Celine Dion, not just because of her pipes, but because of the joy with which she sings.

If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I don’t think I could. That would drive me insane.