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Broadway’s The Lion King interpreter, who was fired for being white, is settling the case amid backlash

The white sign language interpreter who was booted from Broadway’s The Lion King because of his skin color has quietly settled his federal discrimination case against the theater company that fired him, The Post has learned.

Keith Wann and the Theater Development Fund — a nonprofit that provides ASL interpreters for Broadway shows — settled the dispute out of court just two weeks after Wann filed his lawsuit and The Post published a front-page report.

“The matter between me and TDF has been settled and both parties are satisfied with the discussions that ensued,” Wann wrote in a social media post announcing the settlement. “I look forward to reviewing the resulting process which will hopefully benefit the interpreting profession.”

A picture of Keith Wann.
Keith Wann and the Theater Development Fund settled the dispute out of court just two weeks after Wann filed his lawsuit.
Courtesy of Keith Wan

Wann filed the lawsuit on Nov. 8 after he and another interpreter, Christina Mosleh, were told to pull out of production in April so they could be replaced by black sign language experts, according to the lawsuit and e-mails received from The Post.

“While Keith Wann is a great ASL actor, he’s not black and shouldn’t represent The Lion King,” Shelly Guy, ASL’s director for The Lion King, told Lisa Carling, the theater’s director Development Fund accessibility programs in an email.

Wann’s decision to take the case to court drew backlash from the deaf community online.

An image of people performing The Lion King on Broadway.
“Stop taking all jobs when we have black interpreters who are a better fit…” said deaf artist Raven Sutton.
Broadway World/Shutterstock

“You disgusted me,” Randy Spann, host of deaf talk show The Real Talk with Randy, said in a video response to Wann’s lawsuit. “Enough is enough. Let black people have their opportunities to be in the spotlight.”

In a viral TikTok video, deaf performer Raven Sutton slammed Wann for his decision to sue the theater company.

“This is not discrimination,” Sutton captioned the video, which had over 57,000 views. “Reverse racism is not a thing. Stop taking all jobs when we have black interpreters who are a better fit. Wipe away your own white tears because we won’t do that for you.”

An image of an accessibility and translation sign.
“There are some people justifying why they don’t support him through the lens of racial identity politics,” said Jared Allebest, a deaf civil rights attorney.
Stephen Yang for the NY Post

Many Post readers and others in the deaf community came out to support Wann and condemn the outrage he faced.

“I’m amazed at the hate,” Jared Allebest, a deaf civil rights attorney, told The Post. “There are some people who justify why they don’t support him through the lens of racial identity politics.”

In Wann’s statement this week, the interpreter addressed the criticism he faced online and the debates his lawsuit had sparked.

“Over the last week I’ve seen a lot of pain in our community and also seen some much needed conversations,” Wann wrote. “It is unfortunate that assumptions have been made and conclusions drawn without all the facts.”

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