Jason Weaver attends 2019 Wanderluxxe Pre-Emmy Diversity Luncheon at Craig's Restaurant on September 21, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Jason Weaver's Estimated Net Worth: $4.0 million

He is the original singing voice of The Lion King, and he’s made a pretty penny out of it. Jason Weaver, one of the most underrated artists in Hollywood and also an incredibly smart entertainer, voiced Young Simba in the original 1994 Disney movie. It was recently revealed that Weaver refused a hefty one-time paycheck from the movie for a steady stream of royalties. And it made him rich enough to build his net worth to an estimated $4.0 million in 2019. Just how rich is Jason Weaver? We’ve traced his rising career right here.

Jason Weaver’s Mother Sang TV Jingles

Jason Michael Weaver was born on July 18, 1979 in Holland, Michigan. His mother, Marilyn “Kitty” Haywood, is the key member of the Chicago-based female vocal group Kitty & the Haywoods.

The group was made up of Kitty, her sisters Vivian and Mary Ann, and, later, Vivian’s daughter, Cynthia. They started as commercial singers for TV jingles before serving as backup singers for artists like Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, and Aretha Franklin.

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They released their debut album, Love Shock, in 1977, which was written and produced by the Ohio Players. After their moderate success and a second album, Excuse Me, I’ve Got a Life to Catch, Kitty & the Haywoods stepped away from the business.

But for Kitty Haywood, it wasn’t the end of her connection to the music industry. It would be her son, Jason Weaver, who would start his entertainer career at a young age.

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Weaver Started as a Child Artist

When he was only five years old, Jason Weaver jump-started his career as a child model. Back then, he featured in commercials for a beverage company and a fast-food chain.

He soon graduated to bigger acting roles like the 1990 TV movie The Kid Who Loved Christmas and the old Oprah Winfrey TV show, Brewster Place. He went on to portray a young Michael Jackson in the 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream.

He had a recurring role in the ‘90s sitcom Thea, during which Jason and his mother had moved to California. He balanced school with his rising career while in the entertainment capital.

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Weaver Earns Royalties from The Lion King

Sir Elton John visited the set of The Jacksons: An American Dream and heard a young Weaver sing. The composer of Disney’s 1994 blockbuster The Lion King then selected a 13-year-old Weaver as the voice of young Simba, giving him his big break.

The movie was the first big paycheck of Weaver’s career. And considering the iconic movie is still a cult favorite more than two decades later, he’s still raking in the royalties.

That wouldn’t have happened if he had taken Disney’s initial offer. As Weaver told Vlad TV recently, he was offered a flat $2.0 million for the movie.

“I remember it was like $2 million,” said Weaver. “You gotta remember, they’re coming off of Beauty and the Beast. They’re coming off of Aladdin. Disney had bread.”

However, Kitty Haywood, who was negotiating on behalf of her then-minor son, decided he would benefit from a long-term remuneration plan.

“Disney had a reputation for re-releasing stuff,” recalled Weaver. “I think at that time they had put out Sleeping Beauty and some of their old catalog from when Walt Disney was alive. They were releasing that stuff when they were releasing the new Disney stuff, so she [Weaver’s mother] was able to see the playing field and go, ‘Wait a minute, this is going to make a lot of money over time, so what happens when my son turns 40? Is he going to be able to get a check for this when they eventually re-release this.”

Thanks to Haywood’s supreme negotiation abilities, Weaver walked away with $100,000 upfront and a share of royalties for a lifetime. Though his exact cut is not known, he has reportedly earned over $1.9 million—eclipsing the $2.0 million he was offered.

Haywood had excellent foresight because Disney re-released The Lion King several times in the last 25 years, including in 2002 for IMAX and in 2011 in 3D. To show his gratitude to his mom, he gives her a share of the royalty earnings.

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Weaver Released His Debut Album in 1995

While the Lion King revenue kept rolling in, Weaver followed his singing and acting interests. He appeared in movies like Drumline, The Ladykillers, and ATL. He also appeared in music videos for “Rock Yo Hips” by Crime Mob and “Make Up Bag” by The-Dream.

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Weaver released his debut album, Love Ambition, under Motown Records in 1995. In 2003, he was a featured artist on Chingy’s “One Call Away” and even appeared in the music video for the same.

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