In 1997, Cinderella made waves in Hollywood by casting Disney’s first black princess when choosing Brandy for the title role. Let’s look back on the film’s powerful relevancy 24 years later as it streams on Disney+.
The Diverse Cast
Full of progressive themes for the time, the film showcased a multi-racial cast. Along with Brandy as Cinderella, Filipino-American actor Paolo Montalbán starred alongside the pop princess as Prince Christopher. Whoopi Goldberg and Victor Garber portrayed king and queen and parents to the Asian prince. Cinderella embraced the need for representation in Hollywood, giving people the chance to see themselves on screen.
The Angelic Whitney Houston.
While Cinderella was Brandy’s first big film, the talented and beautiful Whitney Houston graced the scene as Cinderella’s fairy godmother. Leading the film as an executive producer, Houston also became a mentor for the young Brandy. Houston, known as pop royalty, shined the brightest just when she was herself. Brandy reflected on Entertainment Tonight about her special time with the late Houston. “She has changed my life forever, and she’s gonna change so many others that never really got to see her in her prime,” Brandy said, “I’m so glad that they’re gonna see her in this light. This is the light that she should always shine in.”
Audiences can relive the pure loving relationship between the two during the film. One of the best moments of the film proves to be when Brandy and Houston both sing “Impossible” together, not because of their captivating vocals but also their enthralling chemistry.
Filled With Star-Studded Talent
Along with Brandy and Whitney Houston, the film included big names like comedic legend Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina and the bewitching Bernadette Peters as the evil stepmother. Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander lent his talents as Prince Christopher’s right-hand man, Lionel. It was exhilarating to watch all of these distinguished actors play on-screen together in 1997, and it still is today.
The Mystique of the Visuals
The beauty of this film comes from its storytelling. I still experience chills when the fairy godmother’s twirl of a wand transforms Cinderella’s clothes into a gorgeous blue ball gown, and a crown adorned in jewels. Audiences can’t escape the heartwarming nostalgia of the pumpkin turning into a glowing carriage or the mice evolving into footmen and coachmen. The spell may only last until midnight, but the magic of the scene stays.
As Cinderella returns to the pop culture conversation, many young people will experience the film for the first time.
To celebrate its mark on Disney+, the film’s living cast members have reunited to discuss its impact years later.
Brandy joined entertainer Todrick Hall for his “Cinderella Medley” and created her own TikTok challenge to honor the film that changed her life. “It impacted my life on so many levels,” she tells Entertainment Tonight, “It opened so many more doors for me… I was just able to continue to do what I love to do.”
Impossible things are happening every day! Cinderella is now on Disney+ @disney ✨ : @lipsticknick ##cinderellachallenge ##bippityboppityboo ##magic
♬ som original – Lay ❤️
The film will continue to influence generations to come with its representation, fond memories of Whitney Houston, and eye-catching special effects. Thank you, Cinderella, for showing us there is music in all of us, no matter who we are.