Brandy Speaks on Working With the Late Natalie Desselle-Reid & Whitney Houston in ‘Cinderella’

by Jamila Lizet White

February 10, 2021

Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage/Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

When Disney+ launched in Nov. 2019, spectators were quick to notice the absence of Brandy Norwood, Whitney Houston, and Natalie Desselle-Reid‘s feature film, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The 1997 film made history by casting Norwood as the first Black Cinderella and a racially diverse cast.

Now that the film is slated to stream this Friday (Feb. 12), the singer-actress spoke to the memories she shared on set with both Deselle-Reid and Houston.

“I’m very blessed to have experienced what I experienced in ’97 with Cinderella, with a multicultural cast, diverse artists from Whitney Houston to Whoopi Goldberg, Jason Alexander, all of these amazing people … just to have that experience is something I can keep with me forever,” said the 41-year-old singer during an interview with theGrio.

Now that the NAACP Image Award winner’s daughter Sy’Rai is 18 — Norwood’s age when the film was released — she’s excited to share the film with both her and a new generation that she hopes will “inspire them to dream big dream.”

Serving as the executive producer of the movie, the 6x Grammy-winning artist chose Norwood to play the titular role of Cinderella; a decision that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“I’m so proud of that,” she shared. “I can look back and see it and experience it. Even moments outside of Cinderella … just being in the studio when I first met her … all of that footage, I can go back and see and keep that.”

The Moesha actress went on to reveal what it was like working with Desselle-Reid, speaking positively of her energy.

“Her spirit was just energetic, very funny, very down to earth,” she stated. “I just remember always annoying her and Veanne [Cox] because I just wanted to be everywhere they were — even scenes that I [was] not in — I just wanted to be around their energy.”

The Eve and B.A.P.S actress passed away of colon cancer in Dec. 2020. She was 53.

Although the Grammy-Award winning artist hadn’t spoken to the late actress in years and feels “horrible” that she wasn’t able to share a final exchange of words, she’s glad that audiences will be able to witness her shine.

“I know that she’s with us in spirit and I know that she is going to shine so bright in this film. And for people to see her, it’s going to be amazing,” Norwood said. “She did that. She really did that.”

Cinderella is one of the most expensive television films ever made with a budget of $12 million. Nominated for seven Primetime Emmys and three NAACP Image Awards, the groundbreaking movie showed the importance and the impact diverse casting has less than 25 years since the movie’s release.

Tell Us: What was your favorite scene from the film?

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