More than two decades have passed since Brandy became the first Black Cinderella in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s live film adaptation of the Disney classic.
Cast alongside the “Full Moon” singer was Whitney Houston, who played Cinderella’s fairy godmother, Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina, Bernadette Peters as the stepmother, and a host of other talented actors.
At the time, Brandy was 18 years old and had already found success as a singer and budding actress with the hit show “Moesha.” But, by portraying Cinderella, Brandy was entering into new territory, one that would connect her to her idol, Houston.
“My dreams when I was a young girl [were] to be a singer, have my own band and meet Whitney Houston. That was it,” she said during the 25th “Cinderella” anniversary special on “20/20.” The singer continued, “I had no idea that my destiny would take me to a role [like] Cinderella, be the first woman of color to play her, and then for Whitney Houston to be my Fairy Godmother. You gotta be kidding me.”
The two dynamic vocalists forged a bond that would carry on until Houston’s untimely passing in 2012. The “Star” actress has fondly spoken about the “My Love Is Your Love” singer throughout the years, each time shedding light on just how significant of a role Houston had in her life. On Instagram, Brandy even referred to Houston as “My Forever Angel and Fairy Godmother.”
Although the two vocalists shared the screen for several scenes throughout the 1997 film, one of the most memorable and sentimental moments for the younger singer didn’t occur while they were in character. “Honestly, my ultimate favorite moment was never in the movie. It’s in the studio with Whitney,” she said. While reviewing a clip of her and Houston singing the film’s breakout record “Impossible,” Brandy recalled being nervous about collaborating with her idol, but in the end found comfort in knowing they were both able to let their guards down and be themselves with one another.
“Their chemistry was just off the charts,” said co-star Bernadette Peters. “I think Brandy admired her so much. I think Whitney was so loving to her, and what could be more perfect than that, having your fairy godmother be someone that loves you, and you look up to.”
To this day, fans still revel at the film and the iconic performances of Houston and Brandy. “I can’t even describe to you what I was feeling watching this movie for the first time! So legendary. So epic!” wrote a fan online.