BWW Review: MY PRIDE: Mastering Life's Daily Performance by Alton Fitzgerald White
Last week marked the milestone 20th anniversary of Disney's The Lion King on Broadway, and to celebrate, Disney Books published three titles correlating to the musical today. One of them was a memoir, MY PRIDE: Mastering Life's Daily Performance by Alton Fitzgerald White, a hybrid memoir plus life lessons guide from the actor who played Mufasa for a record-breaking 4,000+ performances.
In MY PRIDE, the actor reflects on the path that led him to theatre and eventually to Broadway while sharing advice and life lessons that can be used not just by fellow thespians, but people from all different backgrounds hoping to make their dreams come true.
He talks in-depth about his childhood and the path that led him to his career in musical theatre. He grew up in a rougher neighborhood and wasn't allowed to switch to a special school, the Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, in elementary school. It wasn't until junior high that he was able to switch into a more specialized school, but he thrived and began succeeding academically. He was issued another chance to apply to The Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, and this time, he got in. The school cultivated the love of music and performing that began in a closet in his house, grew to the church choir, and led him to a school stage. After graduating, he tried to deny his love of theatre and go into business, which was a more stable, practical decision, but he still found his way back to his first love and has had successful runs in shows ranging from Miss Saigon to Smokey Joe's Café to Ragtime to his highly-lauded stint with The Lion King.
Throughout the memoir, White is very down to earth and humble about his success and the road that led him there. He ends each chapter with great reflective questions that leave readers analyzing their own journey and giving great advice to build a career of their own. This book could sit in the Self Improvement section just as easily as it does the Biography aisle; it's a great hybrid as White shares what he's learned and passes on his advice to a new generation. In fact, sitting down to reflect is what initially led him on his journey to publishing a memoir, and it spiraled into an entire book. The advice is heartfelt and applies not just to aspiring thespians, but many other fields as well. His philosophy will help readers find happiness in their own lives, and maybe even a greater chance at success.
The memoir is, of course, also great for performers. It chronicles White's journey, both good and bad, and shows the work it takes to get ahead and make it. From smaller roles to understudies, to behind-the-scenes politics, White brings the world of a performer to life. This glimpse is also great for theatre fans who want a look at what it takes to create a show. Having performed the role of Mufasa in The Lion King for a record-breaking 4,000+ performances, there is also a great look at the world of Disney and The Lion King that will appeal to many fans of the show and show them the way the show has evolved over the years.
MY PRIDE is available now from Disney Books in celebration of The Lion King's 20th Anniversary on Broadway and will make the perfect gift this holiday season for Broadway lovers and Disney fans alike.