Brandy can’t wait for a new generation to discover Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. ET’s Rachel Smith spoke with Brandy to celebrate the news that the Whitney Houston-led version of the classic fairy tale is finally coming to streaming.
“What I love about this film, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, is that we’re gonna see her in this enchanting light,” Brandy says of Whitney, who died in 2012. “This is how we need to see her… Her voice, her talent, her vision for, not just me, but this entire cast and bringing this whole film to life, it’s unforgettable.”
Brandy stars as the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film, alongside Houston, who plays the Fairy Godmother. Whoopi Goldberg, Paolo Montalban, Victor Garber, Bernadette Peters and Jason Alexander also appear in the fan-favorite flick.
“She has changed my life forever and she’s gonna change so many others that never really got to see her in her prime,” she adds. “I’m so glad that they’re gonna see her in this light. This is the light that she should always shine in.”
After months of fans pushing for the groundbreaking film to be added to Disney+, they got their wish when the streaming service announced it was doing just that. Fans were quick to celebrate on Twitter, with one calling the movie “everything” and another admitting that she “could cry” from excitement.
Brandy is just as excited as those Twitter users, admitting that she “couldn’t believe” the news initially.
“I heard so much chatter about it. I know the fans have been asking about it. I believe there was a petition. I know that so many people have been hitting up Disney+ like, ‘Come on! You gotta have Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella on there! It’s Whitney Houston!'” Brandy says. “I’m so glad that it has a home now. It has the perfect home for this new generation to really just soak it all in and really understand that this is something that they’ve never really truly seen before.”
My entire feed being excited over Brandy's cinderella is giving me life. The casting and the music in this movie is everything. pic.twitter.com/fZ7IvKCrpN
Brandy as Cinderella is going on Disney plus. I could cry right now I’m so excited. pic.twitter.com/NfuRGPRCNy
While she knows of its impact now, Brandy didn’t realize the magic she was making while on set.
“I didn’t really understand what really was going on. I couldn’t really grasp the the history… I didn’t really know that it was gonna be historic in the way that it was, and [that] it was gonna have such an impact and be so revolutionary,” she says. “I didn’t know that. I didn’t have that kind of mentality.”
“But I did know that something special and magical was happening,” Brandy continues. “I was just so happy to be around my childhood idols and really work with them and learn from them. I was over the moon about it.”
While Brandy may not have been privy to the film’s eventual impact at the time, she developed “so many memories” while making the movie.
“My fondest memory is being in the studio with Whitney Houston. I was having so much fun. It was like nothing that I could ever really imagine, because she’s right there, and I’m like, ‘That’s Whitney!'” she says. “I spent my whole life trying to meet her, so moments with her were the best… I just love her so much, still love her today.”
In fact, Brandy says, she’s still “humbled” by the fact that she was the one selected for the now-iconic role. “Whitney could’ve chosen anyone, but she chose me and I am forever grateful for that,” she says.
Not only did Brandy get to meet, work with and befriend one of her heroes, but starring in Cinderella also afforded her career opportunities.
“It impacted my life on so many levels. It opened so many more doors for me… I was just able to continue to do what I love to do,” she says. “Then later on in life, I was able to do Broadway. I just remembered all of my Cinderella moments and… I was able to take that with me and take it to Broadway.”
Throughout the making of the film, and during their lasting friendship in the years after, Whitney taught Brandy many life lessons, but none more important than her directive to be yourself.
“I had a three-hour conversation with her before she passed away and that’s what the conversation was about. She went into depth about me staying true to who I am. She made me promise her that,” she says. “So that has always been what I have vowed to do. I live my life every day being more and more myself. That can work in any area of your life… Being true to who you are just sets you free on every level.”
It’s lessons like those, Brandy says, that she keeps with her, along with Whitney’s memory, at all times. “She’s always with me,” Brandy says. “I feel her always. Always.”
Now, Brandy’s grateful that Whitney’s onscreen excellence will be available for fans everywhere to appreciate.
“I’m just thankful to Disney+ that they really gave this beautiful piece of art a place to live, just for people to relive it over and over again and dream their dreams,” she says.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella will be available on Disney+ beginning Friday, Feb. 12. Tune in to Thursday’s episode of Entertainment Tonight to see more of ET’s interview with Brandy.
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