Throughout her decades-long career as a singer and an actor, Brandy has delivered a number of memorable performances, but one of her most widely beloved roles is her gorgeous portrayal of the title part in the 1997 Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. In the film, Brandy starred alongside the late Whitney Houston, who was breathtaking as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, with actors including Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Garber, and Jason Alexander. Cinderella was never my favorite fairy tale, but to this day I get goosebumps while watching Whitney and Brandy duet on “Impossible/It’s Possible.” Even with the extremely 1997 visual effects, it’s impossible (nudge nudge wink wink) not to be enchanted by this adaptation of the classic story.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Brandy discussed the significance of a new generation being exposed to the 1997 Cinderella, and her relationship with Whitney Houston prior to her death.
“What I love about this film, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, is that we’re gonna see her in this enchanting light,” Brandy says of Whitney, who died in 2012. “This is how we need to see her... Her voice, her talent, her vision for, not just me, but this entire cast and bringing this whole film to life, it’s unforgettable.”
“My fondest memory is being in the studio with Whitney Houston. I was having so much fun. It was like nothing that I could ever really imagine, because she’s right there, and I’m like, ‘That’s Whitney!’” she says. “I spent my whole life trying to meet her, so moments with her were the best... I just love her so much, still love her today.”
On the broader cultural significance of the film:
“I didn’t really understand what really was going on. I couldn’t really grasp the the history... I didn’t really know that it was gonna be historic in the way that it was, and [that] it was gonna have such an impact and be so revolutionary,” she says. “I didn’t know that. I didn’t have that kind of mentality.”
“But I did know that something special and magical was happening,” Brandy continues. “I was just so happy to be around my childhood idols and really work with them and learn from them. I was over the moon about it.”
On the impact of the role on the future of her acting career:
“It impacted my life on so many levels. It opened so many more doors for me... I was just able to continue to do what I love to do,” she says. “Then later on in life, I was able to do Broadway. I just remembered all of my Cinderella moments and... I was able to take that with me and take it to Broadway.”
On her friendship with Whitney Houston:
“I had a three-hour conversation with her before she passed away and that’s what the conversation was about. She went into depth about me staying true to who I am. She made me promise her that,” she says. “So that has always been what I have vowed to do. I live my life every day being more and more myself. That can work in any area of your life... Being true to who you are just sets you free on every level.”
“She’s always with me,” Brandy says. “I feel her always. Always.”
Read the full interview here, and don’t forget to stream Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Disney+! (I’d advise keeping a box of tissues within reach.)