SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Circle of Life is bringing life full circle for one actress in the Broadway San Diego stop of "The Lion King."
T. Shyvonne Stewart, who plays several roles in the touring production, is a self-described "Navy Brat." Her family lived in San Diego for three years while her father was a Captain at Naval Base North Island.
"Flying in, I forgot just how much I love San Diego," she says. "This was our last place where we spent as a Navy family, living on base, then my father retiring. So it was a really big part of my upbringing."
Stewart was 11 years old when her family left San Diego. Coming back with the tour gives her a chance to reconnect with family, friends, and some of her favorite old stomping grounds.
"I ran over to Coronado, to see our old house," she says. "We got to go to the zoo, which is great. I'm still planning to go to the Safari Park, because that was one of my favorites... And I will be hitting the beach multiple times while I'm here."
It's also a chance for a lot of her West-coast based friends to see her act.
"Many people, because I did a career change, haven't seen me on stage. So having old family friends, Navy folks, being able to see me perform on stage is super amazing," says Stewart. "It's just lovely to be in places where you have roots, and be able to revisit those roots."
The show has also helped Stewart revisit some of her traditional roots.
"I did a genealogy test and found out I was 6% South African," she explains. "So once I started this show, I'm always like, 'I want to bring out my 6% South African!' It's like a joke we have among the cast."
But it's a serious matter of pride to help audiences all over the country understand the beauty of The Lion King and how it taps into the African heritage of the original story.
"It's pretty magical to be able to share that story, particularly as a black woman," Stewart says. "Being able to spread those kinds of different stories around, because, as black people, we have various different backgrounds and aspects to us. And so this is just one facet we get to share."
And she still gets a thrill going on stage every night, whether it's as a bird, lioness, or even tuft of grass.
"It's been really amazing. It's a dream show to be a part of."
The Lion King runs through September 11 at Broadway San Diego. Tickets are still available.