Hello, my name is Valery Crayton, I am 18 years old and in my senior year of high school. I currently live in Chelsea, Massachusetts, but most of my family live in Columbia and Georgia. Roar! The ferocious king of the jungle, the lion is the animal that caught my eye in this museum. As soon as I walked into the Africa gallery, the fierce leader in the middle of the exposition stole the show.
The way it stood, so mighty, in the midst of all the other animals like it was truly in charge was so powerful. Lion is such a beautiful creature with so much character. It's amazing. A personal reason why I resonate with the lion is because in middle school, I played Nala in my school's production of The Lion King. As a sixth grader, holding a big responsibility for of one of the main roles, I was terrified, yet excited. I worried about not fulfilling the expectations of having a leader role, but I had so much fun practicing lines, songs, and dances with the rest of the drama club. It was my opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and learn a lot about myself.
One moment specifically that I was reminded of by seeing the lion here in the museum was practicing my solo song “Shadowland” in my room with my dad. He told me that in order to get the audience to feel what Nala was feeling is making sure that I understood what I was actually singing about. You know, in order to deliver your character you have to be able to understand them. We read through the lines of the song one-by-one breaking them down to understand them. The song was about Nala going to find Simba after Pride Rock was taken over by malicious Scar.
This one line the Nala said as she was leaving was: I will remember my pride. I was like wait a minute, your pride? Isn't that some kind of personality trait? Isn’t it kind of weird in that sentence? Like why would you remember how proud you were? I soon learned that a pride is a family of lions. So she was saying that she would remember her family and it made so much more sense and made it easier for me to put feeling into the song. I had no idea that the word pride had more than one meaning. As I played Nala I had to put myself in the role of a character that was strong minded, brave, and wise, all things that I couldn't relate to myself at the time. Although it felt nice to have that personality on stage, I wanted to learn from that experience and grow as a person off of stage. I wanted to be able to take on some of those characteristics of a lion such as being a leader and having bravery. In situations where I felt weak, I would tell myself that I needed to be a lion. Now I can proudly say that I'm a much stronger and braver person. Lions are such powerful and beautiful animals who hold a lot of meaning to me, which is why I adore the lion in the Africa gallery.