Keith Wann: Broadway Lion King sign language interpreter fired for being white settles discrimination case

A white sign-language interpreter booted from Broadway’s Lion King for his skin colour quietly settled his federal discrimination case against the theatre company that fired him, the NY Post has learned.

Keith Wann and the Theatre Development Fund — a non-profit that provides ASL interpreters at Broadway shows — resolved the dispute outside of court just two weeks after Wann filed his lawsuit and The Post published a front-page report.

“The matter between myself and TDF has been resolved and both parties are satisfied with the discussions that ensued,” Wann wrote in a social media post announcing the settlement.

“I look forward to the review of the process that will come from this to hopefully benefit the interpreting profession.”

Wann filed the lawsuit on November 8 after he and another interpreter, Christina Mosleh, were told to back out of the production in April so they could be replaced by black sign-language experts, according to the suit and emails obtained by The Post.

“Keith Wann, though an amazing ASL performer, is not a black person and therefore should not be representing Lion King,” Shelly Guy, the director of ASL for The Lion King, told Lisa Carling, the director of the Theatre Development Fund’s accessibility programs, in an email.

Wann’s decision to take the case up in court was met with online backlash from the deaf community.

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

In a viral TikTok video, deaf performer Raven Sutton blasted Wann for his decision to sue the theatre group.

“This is not discrimination,” Sutton signed on the video that amassed over 57,000 views.

“Reverse racism is not a thing. Stop taking all the jobs when we have black interpreters that are the better fit. Wipe your own white tears because we are not going to do it for you.”

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

“I’m baffled by the hate,” Jared Allebest, a deaf civil rights attorney, told The Post. “There are some people justifying 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 spawned.

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

This article originally appeared on NY Post and was reproduced with permission

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