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The Distancing Diaries: ‘The Lion King’ Star Adrienne Walker Shares How She’s Staying Strong During This Time

April 7, 2020 by Suzy Evans
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Adrienne Walker in “The Lion King”

Welcome to The Distancing Diaries, where we chat with members of the theater community about how they’re staying creative and inspired in the time of social separation. While we can’t go to a show (for now), we hope that by sharing stories from the field, you’ll find comfort, solace, and maybe a few new ideas of how to pass the time. 

Adrienne Walker plays the strong and confident lioness Nala in “The Lion King” on Broadway, and during this uncertain time for the theater community, she’s channelling some of the power offstage as well.

We spoke with Walker about how she’s self isolating, where she’s turning for entertainment and strength, and how she’s cherishing this opportunity to reset.

How has COVID-19 personally affected you?
Well, the first effects were what everyone in my community was experiencing — anxiety, confusion, and worry. Now that we’ve lost our jobs, until things go back to normal, my husband and I drove to Missouri to stay with his family and to ride this thing out. Most acutely, it’s made me aware of how much I love my job and I’m looking forward to our return. 

What is keeping you inspired during this time?
There are small moments of inspiration that happen daily. It really is lovely to see artists coming together during this time and reaching people digitally. I’m inspired by the creativity of businesses, especially yoga studios and boxing studios, giving free access to patrons during this time. 

How are you staying creative?
I’m definitely using this time for a reset. I have worked consistently since 2015, with only a couple of breaks here and there for an injury or vacation, so I am happy to rest my body and mind for a bit and recharge. I just wish it were under different circumstances. 

How are you practicing self-care?
I am a big advocate of self-care! I have an at home exercise routine (thank you BeachBody!) that I’ve dedicated myself to while we are all keeping physically distant from one another and I go for long walks by myself with no AirPods, or phone calls; just me and nature. It really helps to give me some sense of peace. And on my not so peaceful days, it allows me the time I need to air out any frustrations. 

Adrienne Walker

What is something (or a few things) great that you’ve watched?
My husband and I came across this incredible documentary called HoneyLand, I recommend it. 

What is something that you’ve enjoyed reading?
Anything Octavia Butler!

What are you listening to?
I’m enjoying a lot of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder right now. 

Have you gotten into cooking or baking? What’s something that you’ve enjoyed making, and if you can, can you share the recipe?
I recently tried a new soup recipe from one of my favorite blogs Sweet Potato Soul by Jenné Claiborne. Here’s the link to her Black Bean Coconut Stew. It is DELICIOUS.

How are you staying physically and vocally ready to return to your show?
I’ve been doing a good amount of strength training six days a week. And keeping up with my physical therapy. The Nala track is very active and physical, and daily maintenance is imperative, so that when we return I’m ready to hit the ground running, literally. I am blessed to have an amazing vocal teacher, Susan Eichhorn Young. I have some fantastic warmups from her that I’ve been singing through daily just to keep my vocal cords lubricated and flexible. And when I’m ready for a tune up (which will be soon), she is available via Zoom for lessons as well. 

How do you think people can support theater and the arts community and engage with it during this time?
I already see people doing so much to support the arts, from donating to organizations like The Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, to tuning into live “at home” performances lead by Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley. Or simply binge watching an amazing new series. I’d love to see people with professions outside of the arts being a bit more vocal about how they have depended on the arts during this time. It may save a few programs in schools from being shut down because of funding. When tragedy strikes we come together in song, or dance or film. ART. It’s restorative. It’s meditative. It’s necessary.