Who is Ameenah Kaplan? 'Avengers' actress accused of sexually harassing men on sets of ‘The Lion King’

Who is Ameenah Kaplan? 'Avengers' actress accused of sexually harassing men on sets of ‘The Lion King’
Ameenah Kaplan faces a sexual harassment lawsuit as alleger claims she held secret meetings after ‘The Lion King’ shootings (Photo credit ameenahkk/Instagram)

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: In a complaint filed against two Disney companies, an actor claims that they fired him on the first day of his paternity leave and that a female actress-turned-director harassed the actors for sex. William James Jr has accused Ameenah Kaplan of sexually harassing him and other male members of ‘The Lion King’ cast in the latest lawsuit.

Before he was fired, James Jr had been a Mufasa understudy and a three-year member of ‘The Lion King’ cast. While actor Kaplan is accused of sexually harassing him and other male employees, the production is charged with breaking both city and state human rights laws in New York. James Jr and other male employees were requested to meet Kaplan after work for a secret meeting. Kaplan has appeared in Marvel's ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame.’ Then, in response to his rejection of her approaches, she reportedly said that she may limit his work as Mufasa's understudy. James Jr's complaints about the "hostile work environment" are allegedly ignored by Disney on a "collective blind eye," according to the lawsuit. In contrast, James Jr believes they "condoned and supported" Kaplan and told him to "correct his behavior"  around her.

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He filed the complaint following an investigation and grievance filing by Actors Equity, the organization that advocates for Broadway and national tour players. Additionally, it asserts that Disney "did not train, supervise or instruct its employees, or management” on how to properly handle allegations of discrimination." Actors Equity allegedly supports his complaints of sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit, but Disney "did not care.” According to James Jr, he experienced "severe emotional distress” and “physical humiliation” as well as “anxiety, depression, anger, and loss of employment opportunities." His lawsuit demands Disney and the other defendants pay him an undisclosed sum in compensation for the "mental, emotional, and physical injury" he allegedly sustained. In addition, the lawsuit also requests that the court declares Disney's improper hiring procedures.

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Who is Ameenah Kaplan?

The Academy of Art University Film School has awarded Ameenah Kaplan a BFA in directing. She also studied acting at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently serving as Resident Director for the North American tour of ‘The Lion King’ by Disney and performs as a director and choreographer on the ABC+ program Encore! Early in her career, she worked as an actor, drummer, and choreographer. She has appeared in ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ ‘Grey's Anatomy,’ ‘The Office,’ and ‘Stomp’. Furthermore, she has played the drums for Rihanna, Macy Gray, Adam Lambert, and Rod Stewart and has worked with Blue Man Group as a drum tutor for 18 years.

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After Steven Van Soeren sued Disney in federal court in 2019 for paternity leave litigation, it is the second significant lawsuit that Disney has faced in the last four years. The Disney Streaming Service employee lost his lawsuit despite claiming that his termination came after a two-week paternity leave. Disney stated that federal law only protects the pregnant person and not the father, thus the judge dismissed the case in 2020.

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