The Arts

Lea Salonga

Photo Raymund Isaac

Tony and Olivier Award winner Lea Salonga has portrayed several classic Broadway characters and given voice to iconic Disney Princesses


The award-winning stage actor Lea Salonga blazed the trail in the international stage not just for Filipino talents, but for other Asian performers as well. Her portrayal of Kim in the debut production of Miss Saigon at West End and later, on Broadway were historic moments. Her performances have caught the world’s attention, enough to recognise the enormous talents in theatre and the arts in this part of the world.

Her voice has wowed audiences since her professional debut in 1978, when she was only 7, via the musical The King and I. This was followed by major roles in productions such as Annie and The Sound of Music.

Salonga’s performance as Kim in Miss Saigon won for her the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical in 1991, the first Asian woman to earn such accolade. She previously described her Tony win as her “Oh my God!” moment, a proud one for any 20-year-old performer. To stand on the same stage as Julie Andrews and Jeremy Irons and receive the award was, for her, a dream come true. She continued her illustrious career even decades after the Tony, earning more recognitions such as the Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards.

She has performed for six Philippine presidents, three United States presidents, and English royalty including Diana, Princess of Wales and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She became the first Asian woman to play both Eponine and Fantine on the production of Les Miserables, roles so iconic to her career and the musical theatre scene that she reprised these parts in the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts in London. Adding to a long list of firsts, she also went on to voice animated Disney Princesses Jasmine and Mulan on their big screen adaptations.

This is all history at this point, when Salonga has had a prolific career as a TV personality (including being a coach on the Philippine production of The Voice and The Voice Kids), recording and concert artist, and once again a Broadway performer in recent years. Pre-pandemic, she appeared in the 2016 run of Allegiance and from 2017 to 2019 in the revival of Once on This Island. As a voice talent, she portrays a character on Netflix’s Centaurworld.

In 2021, she announced plans to tour both the United Kingdom and North America for her “Dream Again” tour. A huge advocate for the arts and theatre, she donated the proceeds from the previous release of her eponymous “Dream Again” single to Covid-19 relief funds around the world. This included the human services organisation, The Actor’s Fund.

A self-proclaimed techie and gamer, Salonga spends a significant portion of her time with her family in the Philippines but frequently flies around the world for theatre and concert engagements. From Carnegie Hall in New York to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Salonga is, undeniably, a worldwide phenomenon.

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Lea Salonga will be appearing on a Philippine postage stamp and post card for the Living Legends series that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the first Philippine stamp. She will be featured alongside other global Filipinos like NBA 6th Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson, fashion designer Josie Natori and fast-food chain icon Jollibee.

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