96 Facts About Lea Salonga


Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga, known professionally as Lea Salonga, is a Filipina singer, actress, columnist, and producer.


At age eighteen, Salonga rose to international recognition when she originated the lead role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon in the West End and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.


Lea Salonga then reprised the role on Broadway, winning the Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and Theatre World Awards before making history as the first Asian actress to win a Tony Award and the second-youngest actress to win for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.


Lea Salonga portrayed Eponine and Fantine in the musical's 10th and 25th anniversary concerts, respectively, in London.


Lea Salonga provided the singing voices of two official Disney Princesses: Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan and Mulan II.


Lea Salonga was named a Disney Legend in 2011 for her work with The Walt Disney Company.


Lea Salonga starred as Wu Mei-Li in the 2002 Broadway revival of Flower Drum Song.


Lea Salonga was the first Filipino artist to sign with an international record label.


Lea Salonga has toured widely as a concert artist and has played numerous theatre, film, and television roles in North America, Europe, and Asia.


Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga was born on February 22,1971, in the Ermita district of Manila, Philippines to Feliciano Genuino Salonga, a naval rear admiral and shipping company owner, and Maria Ligaya Alcantara Imutan of Pulupandan, Negros Occidental.


Lea Salonga spent the first six years of her childhood in Angeles City before returning to Manila.


Lea Salonga later transferred to the campus in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila to complete her secondary education, graduating as the class valedictorian in 1988.


Lea Salonga later attended the University of the Philippines College of Music's extension program aimed at training musically talented children in music and stage movement.


Lea Salonga played the title role in Annie in 1980, later reprising the role in 1984, and appeared in other productions such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, The Rose Tattoo, The Goodbye Girl, Paper Moon, and The Fantasticks.


In 1981, Salonga released her first album, Small Voice, which was certified gold in the Philippines, and made her film debut in the comedy film Tropang Bulilit.


From 1983 to 1985, she hosted her musical television show, Love, Lea Salonga, and was a member of the cast of German Moreno's teen variety show, That's Entertainment.


Lea Salonga again performed with the group in 1986 and 1987, appearing on their English-Tagalog album, In Action.


In 1988, she released her second studio album, Lea Salonga, and opened for Stevie Wonder in Manila.


In 1989, Salonga originated the leading role of Kim in the debut production of the musical Miss Saigon in London.


Lea Salonga has sometimes credited the song as the starting point of her international career.


On December 21,1990, Salonga performed with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Ateneo College Glee Club, and guest singer Robert Sena in a homecoming concert in Manila entitled A Miss Called Lea, which was later broadcast on television.


Lea Salonga received a Presidential Award of Merit from President Corazon Aquino for her services to the arts.


In 1999, she was invited back to London to close the West End production, and in 2001, at the age of 29 and after finishing the Manila run of the musical, Lea Salonga returned to Broadway to close that production.


Shortly after, Lea Salonga was contacted by Cameron Mackintosh to join the Broadway production of Les Miserables.


In 1993, Lea Salonga played the role of Eponine in the Broadway production of Les Miserables, becoming the first Asian actress to perform the role on Broadway.


Lea Salonga performed the song "A Whole New World" from Aladdin with Brad Kane at the 65th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, where the song won an Oscar, having already won a Golden Globe Award.


In 1994, Lea Salonga played in various musical theatre productions in the Philippines and Singapore, such as Sandy in Grease, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, and the Witch in Into the Woods.


Lea Salonga then flew back to the Philippines to star with Filipino matinee idol Aga Muhlach in the critically acclaimed film Sana Maulit Muli, which gave her a second Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences award nomination, this time for Best Actress.


Lea Salonga reprised the role of Eponine in the 10th-anniversary concert of Les Miserables at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which was recorded and later released as a film titled Les Miserables: The Dream Cast in Concert.


In 1996, Lea Salonga was again in Les Miserables as Eponine in the West End production of the musical.


In December 1996, Lea Salonga represented the Philippines while performing at ONE: The WTO Show, the closing ceremony for the inaugural World Trade Organization ministerial conference held at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.


From 1997 to 2000, Lea Salonga did recordings and concerts in the Philippines, another engagement in London, and a few returns to Miss Saigon in London and on Broadway.


At age 28, Salonga moved to New York City, purchasing her own apartment.


In December 1998, Lea Salonga appeared in an international panel of performers, along with Iain Glen, Nicole Kidman, and Anna Manahan, for episode 277 of the American Theatre Wing's documentary series, Working in the Theatre.


Lea Salonga returned to Manila in Miss Saigon, staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines at the end of 2000.


Lea Salonga guested on Russell Watson's The Voice concert, narrated for the television special My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, and appeared on the Season 8 Christmas episode of the television medical drama ER, playing a patient with lymphoma.


In 2002, Salonga returned to Broadway to play the leading role of Wu Mei-Li, a Chinese immigrant in a reinterpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song opposite Jose Llana.


The Lea Salonga-led Broadway revival cast album was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.


Lea Salonga sang at the 56th Tony Awards with Harry Connick Jr.


From 2003 to 2004, Lea Salonga did her first "all-Filipino" concerts in Manila called Songs from Home, which later won her an Aliw Award as Entertainer of the Year.


Lea Salonga did voice work for Disney's English dub of Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro as Yasuko Kusakabe.


Lea Salonga wrote the foreword to Linda Marquart's The Right Way to Sing.


In 2006, at the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, Lea Salonga concluded the closing ceremony with the song "Triumph of the One" before an audience of 50,000 people at Khalifa International Stadium.


In 2007, Salonga released her first studio album in seven years called Inspired, which was certified platinum in the Philippines.


In March 2007, Lea Salonga returned to Broadway for another stint in the musical Les Miserables, this time as Fantine.


Lea Salonga's rejoining the show boosted the musical's ticket sales.


Lea Salonga received rave reviews and made it again to the short list of Broadway.


Lea Salonga was then busy with other concerts and musical events, including a Christmas presentation in Manila.


Lea Salonga performed in "Global Pop" at the Music Center on July 11,2008.


From late July 2008 to mid-2009, Lea Salonga played the title role in the 30-week Asian tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, which premiered in Manila.


Lea Salonga sang Patriotic song "Bayan Ko" at the Requiem Mass for former President Corazon Aquino at Manila Cathedral.


From July to August 2010, Lea Salonga played the role of Grizabella in the Manila run of the Asia-Pacific tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.


Lea Salonga was honored as a Disney Legend on August 19,2011.


Lea Salonga was one of the judges in the Miss Universe 2011 pageant in Sao Paulo, Brazil on September 12,2011.


Lea Salonga performed in a six-concert series titled The Magic of Broadway and Disney Favorites in 2012 with the Palm Beach Pops.


Lea Salonga starred in the first production of Allegiance at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego from September to October 2012.


Lea Salonga took on the same role at the DBS Arts Centre in Singapore in November 2012.


In January 2013, Lea Salonga participated in Lincoln Center's American Songbook concert series at the Allen Room.


Lea Salonga was one of the four coaches, together with apl.


Lea Salonga wrote a book, Playlist: A Celebration of 35 Years, which she used as a souvenir program for the concerts.


Lea Salonga pulls it off with such clarity, both musically and emotionally, that it's difficult not to be moved.


In 2016, Lea Salonga won two more Aliw Awards, one for Best Major Concert in a Foreign Venue and her second Entertainer of the Year award.


Lea Salonga portrayed Erzulie in the 2017 Broadway revival of Once on This Island at Circle in the Square Theatre, where she received critical praise for her vocal performance.


Lea Salonga returned to the show for its final performances in December 2018 and January 2019.


Lea Salonga appeared alongside Eva Noblezada, Dale Watson, and Princess Punzalan as a Philippine immigrant, Aunt Gail, in the musical film Yellow Rose, which premiered at the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.


Lea Salonga toured North America and the United Kingdom that year.


In March 2020, shortly after performing in Dubai, Lea Salonga announced that her 2020 North American tour would be rescheduled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In 2021, Lea Salonga voiced the Mysterious Woman in the Netflix series Centaurworld.


On December 25,2021, Lea Salonga returned to Dubai to perform a Christmas concert for Expo 2020 at the Dubai Exhibition Centre.


In September 2022, Lea Salonga began portraying Mama Soubirous in the Indie Theatrical workshop of the new musical adaptation of The Song of Bernadette in Manhattan.


On December 15,16, and 17,2022, Lea Salonga performed with The Tabernacle Choir as the featured guest artist in a series of Christmas concerts at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.


On March 13,2023, Lea Salonga performed at the annual Broadway Backwards event at the New Amsterdam Theatre.


The production will notably mark the first time Lea Salonga has played a Filipino role on the Broadway stage and will mark her return to the Broadway Theatre, where Miss Saigon played.


Lea Salonga was scheduled to return to London's West End and star alongside Bernadette Peters in the Stephen Sondheim tribute revue Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends, which is set to run at the Gielgud Theatre from September 16,2023 to January 6,2024.


Lea Salonga has repeatedly praised Streisand as one of her favorites for her "mammoth" career in singing, acting, producing, and arranging.


Lea Salonga has been praised for her absolute pitch and control over her powerful vocals, which can evoke a wide array of emotion and soundscapes.


Lea Salonga's voice has been described as "golden" by Marilyn Stasio for Variety magazine and "clear and as sparkling as Baccarat crystal" by Rex Reed for Observer.


When Lea Salonga performed as Kim in Miss Saigon, she was expected to utilize most of her range, hitting notes as low as E3 and as high as D5.


In both Disney Princess singing roles, Jasmine and Mulan, Lea Salonga uses head tones that reach up to F5.


Lea Salonga has been recorded singing notes ranging from D3 to C6.


On October 15,2010, Lea Salonga was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


Lea Salonga has been openly supportive of LGBT equality for many years.


On March 29,2021, Lea Salonga condemned the rise of violent attacks on Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.


In November 2001, while performing in the Los Angeles production of Flower Drum Song at the Mark Taper Forum, Lea Salonga met Robert "Rob" Charles Chien, an American entrepreneur of Chinese and Japanese heritage.


Lea Salonga has notable relatives around the world, including Filipino musical conductor and arranger Gerard Lea Salonga, ballerina Maniya Barredo, and Canadian actress and model Shay Mitchell.


One of the most prolific actresses since her career's inception in 1978, Lea Salonga has appeared in numerous international theatre productions, television shows, films, and video games.


Lea Salonga has appeared in Into the Woods, They're Playing Our Song, God of Carnage, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Singapore, Les Miserables in Honolulu during the third US national tour, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, Allegiance in San Diego, Annie at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts of Les Miserables at the Royal Albert Hall and The O2 Arena, respectively.


Lea Salonga made her film debut in 1981 in the Filipino comedy Tropang Bulilit.


In 1983, Salonga began hosting her own variety show entitled Love, Lea, which ended its run in 1985.


Lea Salonga gained national recognition in the Philippines at a young age, winning Best Child Performer at the Aliw Awards in 1980,1981, and 1982.


For reprising her role as Kim in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon, Lea Salonga was awarded Outstanding Actress in a Musical at the 1991 Drama Desk Awards, Outstanding Actress in a Musical at the 1991 Outer Critics Circle Awards, Best Actress in a Musical at the 1991 Theatre World Awards, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical at the 45th Annual Tony Awards.


Lea Salonga made history as the first Asian actress to win a Tony Award and the second-youngest actress to win for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.


Lea Salonga later became the first Asian actress to portray the role of Eponine when she joined the Broadway production in early 1993.


In 2004, Lea Salonga won Entertainer of the Year at the Aliw Awards.


Lea Salonga later won the Aliw Award for Best Major Concert in 2008.


In 2011, Lea Salonga was declared a "Disney Legend" for her work with the Walt Disney Company, providing the singing voices for Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan and Mulan II.