Fil-Afghan American is Jasmine in Chicago debut of ‘Aladdin’ national tour
CHICAGO—Filipina-Afghan American Senzel Gunida-Ahmady will be making her national tour debut playing the role of Jasmine in a Broadway musical production of “Aladdin” at the Cadillac Theater, 151 W. Randolph, Chicago on May 17-28.
The hit Broadway musical is one of the top 20 longest Broadway runs and has recently played its 3,000th performance.
Senzel was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Her mother was born in the Philippines and her father is from Afghanistan.
Senzel grew up listening to Lea Salonga as the voice of Jasmine, singing, “A Whole New World,” among the many songs in the Disney classic. Its animated film version was released by Disney 30 years ago.
As a child, Senzel heard her Filipino relatives singing all of the time, which influenced her love of singing; so her parents enrolled her in piano and singing lessons.
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took a break from studying vocal performance in her third year at New York University to play the much-coveted role.
She participated in theater in her teenage years, having played the role of Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” during her high school production.
Senzel said that playing Jasmine was special because she got to play the princess who was the representation for the dream of so many Afghan girls like her growing up.
She said as an Afghan, she is mistaken as Middle Eastern but actually belongs to Central Asia. She is the first actress of Central Asian ancestry to play the part of Jasmine.