North West made her acting debut in 'The Lion King'. How did it go?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The next generation of Hollywood is headed to Pride Rock.

Within days of each other, Blue Ivy Carter and North West — the eldest daughters of Beyoncé and Jay-Z and Kim Kardashian and Ye, formerly Kanye West, respectively — publicly joined “Lion King” projects.

Disney announced 12-year-old Blue Ivy as a cast member of the live-action prequel “Mufasa: The Lion King” on April 29. Blue Ivy will voice cub Kiara, the daughter of King Simba and Queen Nala. Beyoncé, who also appeared in the 2019 live-action remake, will be Nala.

About a week later, Disney revealed May 8 that 10-year-old North would perform in a live “Lion King” 30th anniversary concert at the Hollywood Bowl on May 24 and May 25, an event celebrating the various “Lion King” adaptations over the years, per a press release.

The concert will be streamed on Disney+ at a later date under the title “The Lion King at the Hollywood Bowl,” but early reviews of the show are sparking further conversation about the role of personal connections in getting roles.

How did the performances go?

North’s run as Simba unfolded at the Hollywood Bowl on May 24 and May 25. She wore a yellow sweatshirt and short set with an oversized fluffy hood and matching shoes, clips online show. She appears to be singing off key and simply shouting at times.

Viewers who saw footage ahead of its release on Disney+ said North’s acting debut left a lot to be desired, and say she got the role thanks to nepotism.

“I was there. It would have been a great performance at a school talent show or musical, but with so many amazing young performers out there, she shouldn’t have been on the HB stage,” one commenter said.

“North West was not good in The Lion King. And her family/production did her no favors in letting her go on anyway. Not all kids are good at all things and they need to be taught that. There were likely dozens of experienced kids that should have been cast,” one critic said online.

“Regardless of whether the performance was good or not, countless kids with more vocal capabilities were looked over so she could do it. The epitome of nepotism,” a critic said on X, formerly Twitter.

Others took more issue with her costume than with the performance itself.

“My only question about North West being cast as Simba is, why didn’t she have a better costume? She’s supposed to be a lion…be a lion…not a kid dressed as a lion on Halloween. It’s not her fault, but idk why they let her go on stage like that. It looked like DIY,” one said on X.

“She’s cute and charming clearly, but it was just cruel to put her in a performance of that standard,” someone said, defending her.

“Not her fault because the adults made the decision,” another said.

Is it a coincidence that both young stars were cast in ‘The Lion King’?

Two children of Hollywood royalty starring in separate “Lion King” adaptations might not be not a coincidence, experts say.

North and Blue Ivy’s status as children of Hollywood A-listers all but guarantees their fame. The kids had been following in their parents’ performance footsteps before the “Lion King” announcements, mostly on projects with at least one of their parents.

North released a single earlier this year with her father titled “Talking” and appears on her mother’s reality show “The Kardashians” as herself. She also recently said she is working on her debut album.

Blue Ivy narrated the audiobook version of “Hair Love” in 2020 and won the best music video Grammy in 2021 for “Brown Skin Girl,” a song from Beyoncé’s album “The Lion King: The Gift,” which is the soundtrack to the live action “Lion King.” She also performed with her mom during the 2023 “Renaissance World Tour.”

In choosing the “Lion King” to make even bigger professional leaps forward, Blue Ivy and North join a history of Hollywood children hard-launching their careers under the Disney umbrella.

Thandiwe Newton‘s daughter Nico Parker, 19, made her film debut in 2019 at 15 with the movie “Dumbo.” Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Miley Cyrus, around 12 at the time, co-starred in “Hannah Montana” starting in 2006. At 15, actor Zoey Deutch, child of director Howard Deutch and actor Lea Thompson, got her start on Disney’s “The Suite Life on Deck.”

Pop culture historian and critic Roy Schwartz says Disney is the “perfect place” for kids to “launch their careers.”

“Disney means brand assurance — you know exactly what you’re getting, and what you’re not getting. No one does that better than Disney. It also makes the performers’ own brand ‘safe’ for fans and parents alike. It’s where they prove their talent, as well as wholesomeness. What they do later is safely outside the Disney brand,” Schwartz says.

Monique Tatum, CEO of BPM-PR Firm, tells in a statement that Disney working with the children of celebrities is a “win win.”

“Disney is a well-oiled marketing and PR machine, so it makes sense for celebrity children to be associated with them,” Tatum says. “The children will not only have a powerhouse PR behind them, but the hope is that those well-known guidelines will protect their children’s branding and images in the long run.”

Since Disney has “such a significant brand,” it “raises the bar for all future deal significance and negotiation starting points,” Tatum says.

North West and Blue Ivy have already been building brands, though have different relationships with the public eye. North has a shared social media account with her mom (@kimandnorth on TikTok), and regularly goes viral, in addition to appearing on “The Kardashians” (and going viral there too).

Blue Ivy is known asBeyoncés manager“ on Black Twitter, a running joke used to describe her influence on the singer’s life and how grown up she’s become.

Beyoncé is more private with her family and spoke about how, and when, Blue Ivy would formally enter the spotlight in “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” a December 2023 documentary chronicling her world tour.

“I did not think it was an appropriate place for an 11-year-old on the stadium stage. All the things I had to go through and the obstacles I had to overcome prepared me — and she hasn’t had that struggle,” she said in “Renaissance: A film by Beyoncé.”

Blue Ivy’s dance abilities were criticized after her first performance. In the concert film, she expresses her determination to get better, and ultimately does.

“The Lion King” is an especially apt “launchpad for young, second-generation talent” for another reason: The story itself. In the movie, young Simba takes over for his father, Mufasa, and ascends to be king.

“It’s a story of a cub who grows up to take the place of his father. The metaphor comes built-in. There’s also a nice reflection in that it’s a story about a family, meant for a family audience,” Schwartz says.

It’s significant that Blue Ivy is co-starring in the movie with her mom, Queen Bey, a meta nod to the movie’s regal elements and themes of succession and legacy.

The casting and association with Disney is “phenomenal legacy planning” for North and Blue Ivy, Tatum says.

It’s the circle of life, Hollywood style.

This article was originally published on