Brandy & Paolo Montalban reprise their roles as Cinderella and Prince Charming

— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) March 22, 2023

Brandy’s Cinderella movie sort of lives in my head as that Instagram post I can’t find right now that references how truly colorblind and ahead of its time that casting was. Brandy was a Black Disney princess — the usually white, blonde Cinderella — in 1997. The prince was Filipino and his parents were Victor Garber and Whoopi Goldberg. And no one had any questions about it. And it was at the beginning of the internet so if people complained no one could really hear it. Anyway, Brandy and the prince, actor Paolo Montalban, will reprise their roles in a new Disney movie in the Descendants saga.

Brandy has slipped back into a ball gown and jewels, complete with a sparkly crown, to reprise her role as Cinderella.

Disney+ gave a look at the actress/singer/producer working alongside none other than her Prince Charming, actor Paolo Montalban, whose character’s name has now been upgraded to King Charming, on the set of the original movie Descendants: The Rise of Red. (The project was formerly known as The Pocketwatch.)

It’s part of Disney’s Descendants saga, which follows the teenage progeny of Disney characters. The Rise of Red installment follows the “imaginative mythology of two new lands, idyllic Auradon and the ragtag Isle of the Lost,” where the offspring of Maleficent, Cruella de Vil, Jafar and other baddies reside, and it introduces “the hostile unincorporated territory of Wonderland, a magical, mysterious place made famous in Alice in Wonderland.”

The plot centers around Cinderella’s daughter, Chloe, portrayed by The Baby-Sitters Club alum Malia Baker, and Red, the daughter of the Queen of Hearts, played by Kylie Cantrall. “When the tyrannical Queen of Hearts incites a coup against Auradon, polar opposites Red and Chloe must join forces and travel back in time to undo the traumatic event that set Red’s mother down her villainous path,” Disney teased.

It was only Wednesday that Montalban’s casting was announced. While the new Descendants reunites the central characters from the TV movie, not everyone will be there. Cinderella alums Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, Victor Garber and Jason Alexander are not expected to return; Whitney Houston, who memorably played Cinderella’s fairy godmother, died in 2012.

Brandy has said in the past that the production, which was nominated for seven Emmy Awards and took home one for art direction, meant a lot to her.

“My dream when I was a young girl was to be a singer, have my own band and meet Whitney Houston. That was it,” she told Good Morning America in August 2022. “I had no idea that my destiny would take me to a role [like] Cinderella, [or that I would] be the first woman of color to play her. And then for Whitney Houston to be my fairy godmother… you gotta be kidding me.”

Montalban, who’s Filipino American, told NPR in August 2022 that he thought the entertainment industry was not ready for the “colorblind casting” of the original Cinderella, but society was. However, he said the industry had caught up in the 25 years since the movie had premiered.

“You can see examples of it in other period-type dramas that have nontraditional casting like Bridgerton,” he said. “Or you have people of color playing traditionally Caucasian characters in history in, say, Hamilton, right? So I think that that proof of concept that we did back in 1997 has permeated throughout the industry in a very positive way.”

[From Yahoo! Entertainment]

It’s pretty cool they’re reprising their roles! A video of Brandy and Paolo (now King Charming) in costume popped up on my Instagram, and I thought it was a straight-up sequel, but apparently it’s not. The Descendants saga sounds rather complicated and perhaps contrived — something with the teen children of Disney characters traveling back and time and doing something. So Cinderella and King Charming’s daughter will be more the main character and they’ll be relegated the supporting parental roles. But I’m glad they’re back because those characters were iconic to 8-year-old me. And what Paolo told NPR was pretty accurate. Back in 1997, I watched this with a group of white girls from my Girl Scout troop and literally no one cared that Cinderella was Black or even commented on it or the parentage of the prince. People — not loud racists, but normal people — were ready for their Cinderella’s colorblind casting, but the industry wasn’t and finally, now, it has started to catch up. Brandy’s Cinderella was iconic and Halle Bailey’s Ariel will be too.

— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) March 23, 2023

We’ve got our first look at Paolo Montalban and Brandy reprising their roles as Prince Christopher and Cinderella in Disney’s DESCENDANTS: RISE OF RED’!!!!

— Off Colour (@OffColourOrg) March 22, 2023

— NOSTALGIA (@notgwendalupe) March 22, 2023

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