*A funeral for Broadway star Shannon Tavarez took place Monday (Nov. 8) in New York, one week after losing her battle with cancer.
The 11-year-old, who played the young Nala in hit musical The Lion King, was unable to find a bone marrow donor in her long battle with acute myeloid leukemia and passed away on Nov. 1
Her family and friends attended the service at the Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Queens on Monday, and were reportedly moved to tears as a pre-recorded video message from Tavarez herself was played on a big screen.
“We are happy and sometimes sad. It always hurts to go. But we do start a new beginning, so I bid you goodbye,” Tavarez said in the videotaped poem, her white casket draped with flowers nearby.
Tavarez’s Lion King co-star Marquis Rodriguez, who played the young Simba in the hit production, paid tribute to the brave actress, telling his fellow mourners: “I could honestly say I loved her like she was my sister. And I’m so sad. I wanted to protect her from anything, and this is the one thing that I couldn’t. I love you so much Shannon.”