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In 1997, she originated the role of Nala in The Lion King, the Broadway musical. Headley's performance was well received, and she then originated the title role in the Broadway adaptation of Aida, earning the Tony Award for Best Actress in 2000. She sang in a duet with fellow R&B singer Kenny Lattimore in the end title version of "Love Will Find a Way" from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride.