Theater Lovers are starting their Tuesday off with a mayjah case of “The Sads” upon learning the news that one of Broadway’s fastest-rising young stars has quietly lost her battle against cancer.
Shannon Tavarez, the 11-year-old actress who played Young Nala in the Broadway production of The Lion King, died in a New York City hospital on Monday, just months after her leukemia diagnosis prompted a national call to action from celebs like Rihanna, 50 Cent, and Alicia Keys.
Tavarez was diagnosed with cancer last spring and quickly found that her mixed hertiage as an African-American and Dominican-American would make it increasingly difficult for her to find a donor to provide the bone marrow that she desperately needed to survive. Minorities are underrepresented in the National Bone Marrow Registry. Tavarez’s heartfelt plea for donors attracted the attention of Broadway lovers and music stars alike. In July, cast members from Broadway’s The Lion King and Wicked held a bone marrow donor registration drive for Shannon.
More than 700 people showed up for the drive, but doctors were unable to find a match for Shannon. As an alternative, the young star received an umbilical-cord blood transplant in August. The blood-producing stem cells used in transplants can come from cord blood, bone marrow or blood.
Shannon attended Harlem School of the Arts for vocals and piano and started singing at age 3. She beat out hundreds of other hopefuls last year to earn her spot playing Young Nala, the girlfriend of Simba. For six months, she performed four shows a week, rushing to the theater after school each day. The actress was forced to quit the show following her diagnosis in April.
R.I.P. Shannon! (Don’t Wait to Get Swabbed! CLICK HERE For More Info….)