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

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.

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15 Responses to “Brandy & Paolo Montalban reprise their roles as Cinderella and Prince Charming”

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  1. JM says:

    This is so cool! I love that they brought them back…what a nostalgic tie in.

  2. Alice in Wonderland says:

    Love this!! Loved the original and to have them back again 😍

  3. Steph says:

    OMG, that blue ball gown! I’ve been in love with it since I first saw it. While I didn’t want anything this extravagant for my prom dress, it was the same ice blue as the top of Brandy’s gown.

    Does anyone know how the original movie lines up with Disney rights? I don’t remember Disney’s name being attached to it but instead someone called Hammerstein.

    • ac says:

      the original musical for cinderella was written by the iconic broadway team of rogers and hammerstein. they were using that music in the brandy movie, hence calling it that.

  4. MsIam says:

    I was so excited to see Brandy and Whitney Houston perform their roles back in 1997. I remember watching the version with Lesley Ann Warren on TV growing up, so it was amazing to have my daughter see Brandy in that role. Seeing two beautiful black women in that space was something my 7 year old self never imagined. And Paolo Montalban was/is a cutie! Its a shame that all of this racist “woke” vitriol tries to wreck everything now but I’m glad its not stopping anything.

  5. Ann says:

    I remember watching the broadcast with my daughters (then 3 and 6) as though it was yesterday. I recorded it on the VCR – or did we have TiVo by then? Either way, the production was and is a joy to watch. Their duet “The Sweetest Sounds” is beyond wonderful!

  6. CrazyHeCallsMe says:

    My daughter and I were so excited when we heard this news. I was kind of hoping for a true Cinderella sequel starring Brandy and Paolo. I loved them together and there’s always been something special and magical about their version of Cinderella.

  7. Little Red says:

    I remember watching them back then. It was a beautiful production and Paolo had the voice of an angel.

  8. Suze says:

    Oh, this just makes me so happy. I was I guess 13 when the original came out, and I remember all my friends and I thought it was so cool that Brandy was Cinderella – and how handsome Paolo was! (And is, let’s be honest.) I had no idea what the Descendants saga is, but it sounds kinda cool. I’m assuming this will come out on Disney Plus, so I’ll give it a watch when it does.

  9. Melissa says:

    When I read about or seem images of this Cinderella production, I instantly hear Whitney Houston singing Impossible/It’s Possible. It was just brilliantly cast and beautifully made.

  10. Jessica says:

    The Brandy Cinderella is amazing, it lives rent free in my head, and I will still break into songs from it sometimes. I remember how excited we were for it to premier and we definitely taped it! I love that they’re bringing both back!

  11. Dee Kay says:

    When I read this news yesterday, it made me so happy. I can’t wait to see my fave King Charming and Queen Cinderella again and hope they do more than a brief cameo. Both actors still look gorgeous, too, this is a wonderful bit of nostalgia casting.

  12. Murphy says:

    I love role reprisals! And KING Charming, I love stuff like that.
    Also it’s fine without Whoopi and Victor Garber, you only need the two of them.

  13. Well Wisher says:

    They were delightful, only fitting…..

  14. jferber says:

    Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but when will this come out? On the Disney channel? I am so in! My daughter is so looking forward to the new Little Mermaid coming out next month. We’ll watch it together.