Jason Weaver is well-known for his songs “Hakuna Matata” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.” His reputation skyrocketed when he voiced young Simba in the original animated version of “The Lion King.”
For his performance, he was offered a $2 million compensation upfront in 1994 but he turned it down in favor of collecting up royalties based on the advise of his mother.
“I remember it was like $2 million,” he told Vlad TV in 2019. “You gotta remember, they’re coming off of Beauty and the Beast. They’re coming off of Aladdin. Disney had bread.” He added: “That amount of money to an average middle-class family in Chicago in the early nineties, that’s something.”
His mother asked him to critically examine the deal. She then quizzed, if Disney was willing to pay $2 million, what wasn’t it disclosing or bringing to the table? She proceeded to ask Weaver to negotiate for royalties instead.
“But immediately my mom goes, ‘Wait a minute, OK, if they’re willing to do that…,” he said, adding, “that’s it, that’s all he’ll ever get, for the remainder of his life?’ “They were like, ‘That’s it, he takes the money, that’s it,’ she was like, ‘No, let’s negotiate royalties.’”
She eventually arranged an agreement in which Weaver received $100,000 up front as well as royalties. According to Business Insider, deciding for royalties was based on Weaver’s mother’s intuition that Disney may rerelease some of its masterpieces.
“Disney had a reputation for that, like rereleasing stuff,” Weaver said. “I think at that time they had put out maybe even ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and some of their old catalog, when, like, Disney was alive. They were releasing that stuff when they were releasing the new Disney stuff.”
More than 20 years later, Weaver’s mother’s intervention has proven to be a wise decision – the singer has earned more than the $2 million that was initially promised to him. Weaver acknowledged that this would not have been feasible without his mother’s advise.
“I make sure that I give my mother her just due props and credit for that because if she hadn’t done that, that would have been one of the biggest mistakes of my career business wise,” he said.