In the latest reunion to get excited about, Brandy and Paolo Montalban are set to return as their iconic version of Cinderella and Prince Charming.
Over the decades, Disney has been no stranger to dipping into their storied vault for a good dose of nostalgia. Their movies, shows, and projects see classic characters and properties be reinvented, redesigned, and reimagined for a new audience all while honoring their roots.
Just last year, H.E.R. became the first Black Filipino to play Belle from Beauty in the Beast in a TV special. Later this year, Halle Bailey is set to become the first black woman to portray Ariel in the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. And if that wasn’t enough, we have another dose of Disney nostalgia coming our way with Brandy Norwood and Paolo Montalban reprising their roles as Cinderella and Prince Charming in a new movie.
CINDERELLA AND HER KING
On March 23, Philippine time, Disney unveiled the first look of the two actors in their classic roles for the Disney+ original movie, Descendants: The Rise Of Red. It was first revealed in November 2022 that Brandy and Paolo were back as the characters, but only now did we get to see them in the full fantasy once more. The film finds Cinderella and Prince Charming, or should we say King Charming, royals of the land, and raising their daughter, Chloe.
In the short clip, Brandy is dressed in a stunning baby blue gown with long, blue braided hair while Paolo looks regal in his stately attire. A historic reunion if you think about it.
Descendants: The Rise Of Red is set to follow Red, the rebellious daughter of the Queen of Hearts, and Chloe, Cinderella’s perfectionist daughter. When the Queen of Hearts stages a coup on Auradon, polar opposites Chloe and Red must put aside their differences to go back in time to prevent the Queen from becoming the evil person that she’ll become. Jennifer Phang is directing the movie with a script from Dan Frey and Russell Sommer, which will be released later this year.
A MOMENT TO CELEBRATE
To say that Brandy and Paolo Montalban returning to their groundbreaking roles is a moment is an understatement. The 1997 TV adaption of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is the textbook definition of historic. At the time, the TV movie was made to reflect the societal developments of the 90s, which was strongly seen in its racially diverse cast. Brandy became the first black woman to portray Cinderella on screen while Paolo Montalban made waves as a Filipino-American portraying a Disney prince. The diverse casting included Victor Gerber as King Maximilian, Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina, and the legendary Whitney Houston as Fairy Godmother.
To have an Asian man with a white father and a black mother fall in love with a black woman was unlike anything TV saw at that time. Despite being made in the late 90s, it holds up relatively well to this day. The 1997 movie taught generations to believe that their dreams were valid, regardless of how they looked or where they came from. The contemporary adaption updated its themes, spotlighted a racially diverse cast, and focused on a strong heroine. This 2023, Queen Cinderella and King Charming are back again as it’s their daughter’s turn to be an inspiration to others. While their return sees them enter a more fantastical world, that doesn’t make it any less exciting.