Sure, you may claim to not be excited about Disney on Ice coming to D.C., but we definitely don’t believe you. Who doesn’t love watching all their favorite Disney characters sing and dance while they balance on knives? We wanted to know more about the entire process, so we called up TJ Yang, who plays Young Simba, to tell us all about the audition process, how often they practice, and more.
Obviously, everyone knows who Simba is, but what does your role involve?
For the actual Young Simba performance I do a solo at the beginning of the second act and then we have a little dialogue scene where we show Simba with Mufasa and Scar. Then we meet Timon and Pumba.
How did you get involved with Disney on Ice?
I’ve been skating for about 15 years now, and at the end of my competitive career I decided that I would like to keep skating, and I had a friend who had actually joined. So I got in contact with her and through that I just followed the path and now I’m on Disney.
How was the interview process for that? Disney has a reputation for being really intense. Do you think it was as intense as it is to become a cast member?
Yeah, I believe it is. For Disney on Ice it’s pretty much about how your skating skills are and through there they kind of determine where to put you. So it can be kind of a process because you don’t know who they need. It’s kind of that situation, but I kind of got lucky.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the application process?
There are a few ways you can apply. So they did have a time where you could do your interview, so you’re ice skating in front of the performance director. You can send in videos too and they’ll look through them. Mostly it’s just keeping in contact with them and knowing where they’ll be and stuff like that.
Did you go out for the role of Young Simba? Or were you given that role?
I just generally applied and I was lucky enough to get this role.
Was there a role or character you really wanted?
Not really. For me, just being able to do shows and being able to travel was the biggest plus.
What place are you most excited to visit?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world so far. To Japan and Asia. I would say those are probably my favorite places so far.
How long have you been practicing for the show?
I’ve been on the show for about four and a half years now.
Oh my god.
Yeah, so the practice before the show takes about two weeks if you’re new. To really get an understanding of of the show, it takes a few months to set in.
So you only practiced for two weeks before you performed in a show?
Yes. When I first started.
That seems like a really short amount of time!
Were you nervous?
Yes, I’m always nervous even when I perform. I’m always nervous. I want to give the audience something for them to be excited about.
Do you guys still practice during the day?
Usually about 30 minutes a day.
Would you like to move on to a new role?
I think, for me, as long as I’m able to perform in front of an audience, no matter what that role might be, it will always be exciting for me.
Do you ever miss competitive skating?
From time to time, but being able to perform in a show is much more exhilarating than competitive skating. For me, just to be able to perform gives a much better feeling, compared to the competitiveness. In any sport really, in competition you want to be your best, so that gives you kind of, for me, a handicap. You’re not able to be your best. Being able to perform gives you less stress so you’re able to perform at a much higher level.
Do you think you’re still becoming a better skater? Or do you feel like you’ve learned everything?
I feel like I’m still becoming a better skater because I’ve learned more about performing and less about the technical aspects.
Would you like to continue working with Disney?
I’m not completely sure yet. Either way, I’d be happy.
Is there any role you have your eye on? Outside of Disney
I think as long as I’m still skating, I’ll be okay. As long as it pertains to skating, any role, whether it be a coach or a performer… as long as I’m skating I’ll be happy.