The Lion King finally arrives in theaters nationwide on Friday, July 19, and the live-action remake of the beloved Disney classic features a star-studded cast, including one newcomer, who is bound to be a household name after people hear his work in the film. The talented JD McCrary is who voices young Simba in The Lion King and, given his performance in photorealistic remake, prepare to hear a lot more from him in the future.
McCrary, 11 years old, is an actor and a singer, according to People, and may have seen his work before. For example, he plays Kenny on The Paynes and played a young Michael Jackson on the TV show American Soul. His IMDb page also lists performances in K.C. Undercover, I’m Dying Up Here, and in the 2019 movie Little alongside black-ish’s Marsai Martin.
The budding star also wowed audiences in 2018 at the Grammy awards when he joined Childish Gambino on stage to perform their 2017 song "Terrified," according to Variety, which reported that McCrary is the youngest person ever to sign with Disney’s recording label, Hollywood Records.
While Gambino and McCrary worked together, the more established and older singer gave the upstart some valuable input. As McCrary told Variety, "He gave me a lot of advice about knowing myself and my music and what I want to do. He said to stay true to what you want to do with a song." Coincidentally, Childish Gambino, real name Donald Glover, voices adult Simba in The Lion King.
Earlier this month, McCrary told People that he’s not focusing on just one aspect of her performing career at this point, saying: "I just want to [make] art, pretty much. It’s just a real blessing. Thinking of what I can just do so many years from now, I’ll be someone people look up to. It’s a real blessing that I have all this talent and that I get to show it to the world."
And focusing on those blessings seems to be key for the young star. In fact, on his Instagram — which is managed by his mom — he has the words "Thanking God First" in his bio, and on Twitter his bio reads "Thankful for My Blessings."
Recently, just ahead of the film's premiere, the young actor posted a photo to Instagram of the cast of The Lion King in all their glory. The cast photo features a regal looking Beyoncé, who is the voice of Nala, Glover, Shahadi Wright Joseph, who is the voice of young Nala, Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner, who voice Timon and Pumbaa, and more.
He’s also posted some really adorable images of the live-action version of Simba, which showcase the fantastic visual work that has gone into this production.
The Lion King's release date is just around the corner and it’s hard to say whether Disney fans or the movie's talented cast are more excited. But one thing is for certain, JD McCrary is going to be one name to remember after this performance.