Q & A with San Diego Native, Chondra Profit Ardrey of The Lion King

By Edward Henderson – Digital Managing Editor
edwardI was a senior in college when ‘The Secret’ film was released. A metaphysical wildfire of ideas and ‘thoughts become things’ mantras spread across the nation. One of the principles the film discussed was creating a vision board of things you wanted to manifest in your life in order to create clarity and direction. For stage and screen actress Chondra Profit Ardrey, when securing a role in ‘The Lion King’ Broadway show became the main focus of her board, magic happened.

Profit Ardrey, a San Diego native, is entering into the final stretch run of the San Diego tour of the show which ends on October 2nd. I got a chance to chat with her about her journey to her role as Sarabi in the show.

What sparked your interest in the performing arts?
My mother used to direct my community theatre. She would put on her own shows here in SD. I’ve been doing her plays since I was 4. It created a passion I didn’t know was there. I tell people all the time I was forced into this but I love it.

What is your favorite part about performing?
Telling a story. Every show, everything we do creatively be it singing, dancing or painting, its always telling a story. It’s what I really love about this. Telling someone else’s story, telling my own through someone else’s.

What is it about the story of the Lion King that speaks to you the most?
The arc of a journey that propels us to our true purpose in life. That is the story of Simba. He has to go through all that he goes through. He goes far away from his true calling, but he comes back to it. That is my story too. You kinda stray away from what you’re supposed to do but you always find you way back to it.

I tried to do the corporate world and other things, but it was never fulfilling. I could never get out of it what I get out of being a performer and being able to tell a story through an art form. It always comes back full circle.
What was the story behind finally getting a chance to audition for a role in the show?
I wasn’t feeling that good during my first audition. I absolutely hit the ground all the way because I was dehydrated. I had sang already and was being considered for a call back but I fainted during my dance tryout. They didn’t call me back until a year later. They were testing for a swing brain, someone who can handle multiple roles in the show. They threw different musical parts at me to see if I could remember it. I did, and the next day they offered me that role.

You’re playing the role of Sarabi in this show. What is it about her story that speaks to you?
Through everything she’s the rock and monarch that’s always there protecting. I believe that’s who I am in life. A protector. A lot of people look to me for direction.

Your time at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts played a big role in where you are today. With the budget cuts happening in the school systems across America, why do you think it’s important for the arts to be salvaged?
A lot of kids need the art form to help them be able to express other things. It wasn’t until I was taking music classes that I could understand English. They kind of go hand and hand. A lot of kids need an alternate expression to help them understand. Often times it’s through art.

Why do you think people should come out and see The Lion King?
Its life changing. It helps you put things into perspective. Something that sparks all emotions. You’ll be physically, mentally and emotionally moved. It’s an experience that should be had.
Visit the San Diego Civic Center website to buy tickets to The Lion King at www.sandiegocivictheatres.org