White sign-language interpreter SETTLES lawsuit with Lion King Broadway

A white sign-language interpreter who sued the Broadway production of The Lion King after he was fired and replaced with a black staffer has settled his lawsuit.

Keith Wann, 53, said that he and another performer were taken off the show by the company that staffs ASL interpreters for the non-profit Theatre Development Fund because they were white representing black characters.  

Wann filed a lawsuit two weeks ago against the group and Lisa Carling, the director of the non-profit’s accessibility programs, who said she was ordered to ax Wann on behalf of ASL director Shelly Guy. 

The interpreter has since announced that the lawsuit has been settled following backlash over the case from the deaf community. It’s unclear who chose to settle, and whether Lion King bosses blinked first, or Wann decided to do so after facing a woke backlash from social media motormouths claiming he was in the wrong. 

‘The matter between myself and TDF has been resolved and both parties are satisfied with the discussions that ensued,’ Wann wrote in a social media post announcing the settlement. 

‘I look forward to the review of the process that will come from this to hopefully benefit the interpreting profession.’

Keith Wann, 53, has settled his lawsuit against the non-profit Theatre Development Fund who fired him from the Broadway musical and replaced him with a black ASL interpreter 

The decision was made at the behest of the show's ASL director, Shelly Guy (above), who ordered that white staffers interpreting black characters be replaced

The decision was made at the behest of the show’s ASL director, Shelly Guy (above), who ordered that white staffers interpreting black characters be replaced 

The interpreter was only brought to work on the musical back in March after over a decade working elsewhere on Broadway. The gig also paid $1,000 per show

The interpreter was only brought to work on the musical back in March after over a decade working elsewhere on Broadway. The gig also paid $1,000 per show

While defending his position, Wann acknowledged the controversy that has been stirred by the lawsuit. 

‘Over the last week I have seen a lot of pain in our community and have also seen some much-needed conversations,’ Wann wrote on Facebook. ‘It is unfortunate that assumptions were made, and conclusions were drawn without all the facts. 

‘For those of you who know me, you know I have deep roots in the Deaf community and, as my true friends and wife can attest, I have been an ally to the BIPOC community for decades,’ Wann added, noting that his wife is Latina. 

‘I have never fought for myself to take space in any majority black production, nor have I ignored the need to amplify BIPOC interpreters,’ Wann said. ‘Again, I support Deaf, Deaf-BIPOC, and BIPOC performers and interpreters.’ 

The interpreter was brought to work on the musical back in March after a decade-long career on Broadway. The gig also paid $1,000 per show.

However, the group said that it was ‘no longer appropriate to have white interpreters represent black characters for American Sign Language Broadway shows.’

The show’s ASL director, Shelly Guy, said that the interpreter ‘is not a black person and therefore should not be representing Lion King.’ 

The Theatre Development Fund did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.  

The case triggered arguments online, with many black ASL figures agreeing that Wann should have allowed interpreters of color to have a chance at representation. 

‘You disgusted me,’ Randy Spann, a deaf talk show host, said in response to Wann’s lawsuit. ‘Let black people get their opportunities to get a spotlight.’

Raven Sutton, a deaf performer, put out a viral TikTok video also condemning the lawsuit.  

‘This is not discrimination,’ Sutton said. ‘Reverse racism is not a thing. 

‘Stop taking all the jobs when we have black interpreters that are the better fit. Wipe your own white tears because we are not going to do it for you.’ 

Randy Spann, a deaf talk show host, said he was 'disgusted' by Wann's lawsuit and said he needed to give up his position on the show for a black interpreter

Randy Spann, a deaf talk show host, said he was ‘disgusted’ by Wann’s lawsuit and said he needed to give up his position on the show for a black interpreter 

Raven Sutton, a deaf performer, put out a viral TikTok video condemning the lawsuit as well

Raven Sutton, a deaf performer, put out a viral TikTok video condemning the lawsuit as well

The Elton John and Tim Rice-penned musical, which has run on Broadway since 1997, has always had a predominantly black cast onstage. 

In emails obtained by the New York Post, Carling told Wann and another performer to ‘back out’ of the show so they could be replaced by black ASL interpreters. 

Wann, who says he has interpreted for black actors before, including as Donkey in Shrek: The Musical, called it ‘discrimination’ and saying it shouldn’t ‘matter if I’m white or black.’

He added: ‘This is blatant and I would just hope that other people who have also experienced this would step forward.’ 

The Elton John and Tim Rice-penned musical, which has run on Broadway since 1997, has always had a predominantly black cast onstage

The Elton John and Tim Rice-penned musical, which has run on Broadway since 1997, has always had a predominantly black cast onstage

Wann, who says he has interpreted for black actors before, including as Donkey in Shrek: The Musical, called it 'discrimination' and saying it shouldn't 'matter if I'm white or black'

Wann, who says he has interpreted for black actors before, including as Donkey in Shrek: The Musical, called it ‘discrimination’ and saying it shouldn’t ‘matter if I’m white or black’

Wann is filing a lawsuit against the Theatre Development Fund and Lisa Carling, the director of the non-profit's accessibility programs

Wann is filing a lawsuit against the Theatre Development Fund and Lisa Carling, the director of the non-profit’s accessibility programs

Within days of being cast, Carling emailed him and citing the ‘current social climate,’ wrote: ‘With great embarrassment and apologies, I’m asking you both to please back out of interpreting the show for us on Sunday, April 24. 

‘I don’t see any other way out of this. It seems like the best solution.’ 

Carling said the decision was on behalf of the show’s ASL director, Shelly Guy, who told Carling to get rid of all non-black interpreters.  

In an email included in the suit, Guy writes: ‘The majority of the characters in the Lion King are black actors and the content takes place in Africa. 

‘Keith Wann, though an amazing ASL performer, is not a black person and therefore should not be representing Lion King.’

Wann claims he ‘lost sleep’ over the decision and said that ‘wrong is wrong.’  

Lion King is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Broadway with an invitation-only performance Sunday night, according to ABC7