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.”
Still, she said, her favorite moment from the experience was off-screen. “It’s in the studio with Whitney,” said Brandy, who sang on the soundtrack to the musical movie.
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.”