15 Questions in 15 Minutes with Broadway’s Jelani Remy

There’s no end in sight to the proverbial “fifteen minutes of fame” of triple threat Jelani Remy! The New Jersey native has been a non-stop presence on Broadway and beyond – including his recent cabaret concert dates at Feinstein’s/54 Below – with his stellar vocal, dance, and acting talents, and his frequent on-screen appearances, both throughout the pandemic and since the long-awaited reopening of theaters.

Jelani Remy. Photo by Paul Morejon.

After graduating from NJ’s Montclair State University, Remy was cast as Chad in the touring company of Disney’s High School Musical and Disney’s High School Musical 2, then, following his acclaimed appearances in the Las Vegas and touring productions of Disney’s The Lion King, made his Broadway debut in the lead role of Simba in the popular long-running hit. His show-stopping performance in the 2018 Off-Broadway revival of Smokey Joe’s Cafe garnered a Chita Rivera Award nomination for Outstanding Male Dancer and a win as part of the show’s Outstanding Ensemble. And prior to the COVID-19 shutdown of live in-person performances, he returned to the Broadway stage as The Temptations’ Eddie Kendricks in the Tony-winning musical Ain’t Too Proud, which just reopened on Saturday, October 16, to a thunderous standing ovation.

Jelani Remy inside the Imperial Theatre. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

Jelani was gracious enough to find fifteen minutes in his ever-active schedule to answer some rapid-fire questions about his life and career, to let his multitude of fans get to know a little more about him and his favorites.

  1. What’s the most fabulous thing about the mid-century sound?

Jelani: It brought so many different people of different backgrounds to the dance floor, to move and to smile.

  1. Do you have one song that’s your absolute favorite?

“Just My Imagination.”

Jelani Remy and the cast of Ain’t Too Proud. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
  1. Is there one move that’s been the most fun for you to perform?

I’ve done it in every show I’ve been in – a back handspring.

  1. What three things do you always have in your dressing room?

Ricolas, water, and now a kettlebell.

  1. What activity or pastime do you enjoy when you’re not on stage?

I love teaching, choreographing, and directing.

  1. What came first for you – dancing or singing?


  1. What’s your first creative memory?

Playing with my older brothers (I’m the youngest) and trying to recreate Scarface, doing the accents and getting into the characters.

  1. Who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?

Ben Vereen in Pippin really changed me – how he broke through the fourth wall made me feel everything he did. But I’ve also had some great teachers who really crafted me, so they were very important, especially since I also love teaching.

Jelani Remy in The Lion King. Photo by Joan Marcus.
  1. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve ever gotten from an audience member?

Over 80 people from Cedar Grove, my hometown in New Jersey, came to see me in my first show of The Lion King, and that was amazing. Since then, over 1200 have come to support, thanks to my Mom organizing trips!

  1. If you had a pet lion, what would you name it?

Would it be too weird for me to name it Simba? Or maybe Don’t Eat Me!

  1. What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Energetic. Positive. Here (grateful to be!).

  1. If you were asking the questions, what would you ask?

What is your favorite role that you’ve seen me in?

John Edwards, Jelani Remy, Dwayne Cooper, and Kyle Taylor Parker in Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Photo by Julia Russell.
  1. Can you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?

If you stay ready, you never have to get ready.

  1. What is it about Broadway?

It’s the family for me.

  1. What do you love most about being back live on stage?

I realize how great a gift what we do is, and when it’s taken away, how much is missing. It makes my soul happy, that moment of connection you get in the theater – and especially in the show I’m doing. It’s what we need right now.

It was great to catch up with you, Jelani. Many thanks for sharing a fabulous fifteen minutes of your never-ending fame!

Ain’t Too Proud plays an open-ended run at the Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th Street, NYC. For tickets, call (212) 239-6200, or go online. All audience members must wear a properly fitting mask over the nose and mouth inside the theater, except when eating or drinking in designated areas, must be fully vaccinated to enter, and must present digital or physical proof at the door along with a valid government-issued photo ID. Children under 12 and people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination may show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Guests who do not comply with these policies will be denied entry or asked to leave.  


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