Brandy Only Agreed to Star in Whitney Houston’s ‘Cinderella’ on 1 Condition
On November 2, 1997, our lives changed forever when The Wonderful World of Disney remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella first aired on ABC. The made for TV version of the beloved musical starred Brandy Norwood as Cinderella and was produced by the actress’ longtime idol Whitney Houston.
Though Houston was initially slated to play the lead role, she suggested that the part go to Norwood, who only agreed to star as the iconic princess on one condition.
Houston handpicked Brandy to star as Cinderella
The 1997 remake of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella was the third screen version of the musical. The original production premiered on CBS in 1957 and starred Julia Andrews. In 1965, the network decided to produce another television version after the musical became a hit on-screen and as a stage production.
Fast-forward to the late ’90s, Whitney Houston continued the tradition and produced Cinderella‘s third television production, which starred young superstar Brandy.
Houston’s management team first approached Disney to inquire whether the production company would be interested in a film starring an African American female lead. They initially suggested that Houston star as the infamous princess.
However, after the film was delayed several times due to the singer’s busy touring and Waiting To Exhale filming schedule, she ultimately decided not to play the female lead. While speaking to Jet magazine in 1997, Houston revealed that she felt like she’d aged out of the role after becoming a wife and a mother.
“Yes, I was supposed to be Cinderella. But after you get married and have a baby, it’s like, ‘I’m not feeling quite like Cinderella,'” she explained. “Although I love the wonder and the innocence, I could’ve very well portrayed Cinderella, but it would’ve taken a lot of reaching. Instead, someone who’s 18 and full of that verve and that life.”
Though Cinderella wasn’t a role she saw for herself, Houston knew of a young actress who could fulfill the vision she had for the film.
Brandy only agreed to do the film if Houston did this one thing
Since Disney was interested in casting an African-American singer and actress as the lead, Houston recommended singer Brandy for the role of Cinderella.
The actress, who was starring as the titular character on the hit sitcom Moesha at the time, was a lifelong fan of the Grammy winner and had become her mentee while working together on the song “Sittin’ Up in My Room” for the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack.
After Houston called Brandy to asked her to star as Cinderella, the young actress agreed to do the part, but only on the condition that the “I Have Nothing” singer play her fairy godmother.
Once both women were on board to star in the project, filming got underway, and the movie premiered on ABC in November 1997.
Brandy, of course, made history as the first person of color to portray Cinderella on-screen. Houston also was the first African-American to play her respective role.
Today, the film is still one of the most beloved Cinderella productions ever made, as it is a wonderful musical take on the classic fairy tale.