Brandy Recalls Her “Unbelievable” Experience Working With Whitney Houston in Cinderella

During the Cinderella cast reunion on Thursday, Brandy reflected on her "beautiful relationship" with co-star Whitney Houston and why she felt blessed to be taken under the icon's wing.

By Lindsay Weinberg Feb 12, 2021 12:27 AMTags
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Whitney Houston left an immeasurable impact on the world of music, but for the cast of 1997's Cinderella, it was personal. 

Stars of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical came together two decades later for a reunion with Entertainment Weekly on Feb. 11, and of course they all had the late singer on their mind. 

Whitney, who died in 2012 at age 48, played the Fairy Godmother to Brandy's Cinderella. She also executive produced the film, which starred Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg, Paolo Montalban and Veanne Cox.

Brandy, 42, reflected on one of her career-defining roles, and how it came to be, thanks to Whitney herself. She shared, "For her to consider me for the role, it just was unbelievable because I spent my whole childhood wanting to sing and nobody could have told me in a million years I would be working with her." 

She developed "a beautiful relationship with Whitney" onset, as the six-time Grammy winner "adored me and took me under her wing."

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Stars Who've Played Cinderella Onscreen

The "Borderline" artist felt that Whitney brought her own "sunshine" to the production, and said the two of them singing together for the film was "one of the best days of my life... to be in the studio singing with my idol, my angel." 

"[Whitney] had a magic about her that I felt like I could just be myself," Brandy recalled. "When you're working with your idols, you don't know how to act, but she made me feel safe to be myself and really give the character all I could give."

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Whoopi jumped in to say, "A lot of this came from the heart and soul of Whitney. I know that a lot of what you're seeing is what she wanted."

The View host also noted that with the film's diverse casting, "We were Hamilton before Hamilton."

Montalban, now 47, recounted one of the movie's most memorable moments. He told the group, "When Brandy came out in her Cinderella dress, no acting required, and actually I had to take maybe 10 extra breaths because she was so stunning at the top of the staircase."

It was 15 years after Cinderella debuted that Whitney was found dead at the Beverly Hilton hotel. She was later determined to have died from drowning, as well as atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine usage. Her death was ruled an accident.

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The "I Will Always Love You" singer's legacy lives on, and actress Naomi Ackie was recently cast to play the star in the official biopic of her life. Produced by Clive Davis and her sister-in-law Pat Houston, the movie I Wanna Dance With Somebody found its leading lady after an "exhaustive search."

Pat said, "To transform someone into a matchless Icon is virtually impossible but with careful consideration, Naomi Ackie was selected based on her quality performances and her deep commitment to emerging into the woman that we all loved." 

Cinderella comes to Disney+ on Friday, Feb. 12.

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