Entertainment

Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Is Getting A New Elsa And Ciara Renée Will Be Playing The Beloved Character

What do Idina Menzel, Caissie Levy, and Caroline Bowman have in common? They’re all Broadway actresses that have portrayed Elsa from “Frozen.” They also happen to be all white. Well, that’s all about to change!

Afro-Latina actress Ciara Renée will be playing the role of Elsa in “Frozen” on Broadway.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

Frozen made its Broadway debut in 2018 and was played by Caissie Levy. Idina Menzel was the voice of Elsa in the animated film. Now, an Afro-Latina has scored the coveted role. 

Renée will be playing Elsa, and McKenzie Kurtz will be making her Broadway debut as Anna. Renée and McKenzie will take over the roles. Caissie Levy and Patti Murin end their run as Elsa and Anna respectively on Feb. 16. Renée was previously in the Broadway show “Big Fish” as the Witch as well as “Pippin.”

“Here it is! It’s official! I’m joining the cast of @frozenbroadway as Elsa alongside this bright new star, @mckenziekurtz! And I am incredibly grateful! This is an opportunity to expand minds, open hearts, and empower folks with the power of LOVE! I can’t wait to get started!”

While we’re still getting to know the 29-year-old, we are learning so much about this extraordinary actress who is pretty amazing at showing her biggest supporters lots of love in return.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

Renée, who is half Black and half Puerto Rican, thanked her friends, family, and supporters by giving them exact instructions on what to do when they come to see her show on Broadway. 

“I just want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for all the support and love I received yesterday. It was honestly overwhelming. Thank you, thank you,” Renée said in a video on her Insta-story. “I am so thrilled to be playing Elsa.” 

“But I wanted to set down some ground rules about people coming to see the show,” she said. “I am always so grateful when people come to see the show, people I know, people I don’t. But it isn’t my favorite thing to know when you’re coming. So, if you’re someone I know well, and we have each other’s phone number and you live in New York City, please do not tell me when you’re coming. Please come and text me at intermission or at the end of the show, which is preferred, and I will make sure to put your name on the list. I will check it right after the show.”

She also gave instructions to those she doesn’t know all that well. “If we don’t know each other well or talk super often or you’re from out of town, please do let me know when you’re coming because I want to make sure that I get to see you. For everybody else, I will 100 percent do my very best to Stage Door [where actors meet fans after the show as they exit the theater] as much as humanly possible. I know people come from all over the world to see Broadway and I want to be there as much as I can. If I am not there, please know it’s for a reason. I may not be feeling well, or something is pulling me away, I don’t know what it is, but I will always do my best to Stage Door because I love meeting you all and I am so honored that you would come to see our shows.”

We just love how precise and in control she is about meeting friends and fans. That kind of gratitude will definitely take her far in Broadway and Hollywood. 

Aside from her work on the stage, Renée has also appeared in several television shows.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native and 2013 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University has appeared in Facebook Watch’s series “Strangers,” Netflix’s “Master of None,” CBS’s “Big Bang Theory,” and on the CW’s superhero series “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Arrow,” and “Flash.”

If you haven’t heard Renée’s stellar voice, here’s a clip of the actress singing Demi Lovato’s “Stone Cold.”

Congrats on this new role, Ciara! We can’t wait to see her show on Broadway! Will you be going?

READ: The New Cinderella Remake Tapped Camila Cabello To Play The Princess And Billy Porter To Be The Fabulous Godmother

Nadia Hallgren Is The Afro-Latina Talent Behind Netflix’s ‘Becoming’ Doc

Entertainment

Nadia Hallgren Is The Afro-Latina Talent Behind Netflix’s ‘Becoming’ Doc

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Netflix’s “Becoming” is one documentary everyone is talking about. The documentary, which follows former First Lady Michelle Obama on her 34-city book tour, was directed by Afro-Latina, Puerto Rican cinematographer Nadia Hallgren. It’s the excellence we all love to see.

Nadia Hallgren is the directing powerhouse behind Netflix’s documentary “Becoming.”

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“Becoming” is Hallgren’s first feature-lengthed film and what a way to make a debut. The documentary follows Michelle Obama during her sold-out book tour promoting a book of the same name.

“I think the biggest thing was that it was a tremendous responsibility,” Hallgren told BlackFilm. “This is going to happen one time with Mrs. Obama. I wanted to make the thing and just whatever responsibility that was probably the thing that weighed the most on me.

Higher Ground Productions approached Hallgren to create the documentary.

“I was sitting at my kitchen table the way that I am now, and I got a call from Priya Swaminathan, who is one of the heads of Higher Ground,” Hallgren told Essence Magazine. “And she tells me that Mrs. Obama is getting ready to go out on this book tour and that they were kind of floating the idea of documenting it. Not being certain yet where that footage would live or if it would go anywhere other than her archives, but they were thinking about it. So, after a couple of phone calls, I get an email that says you have an appointment at the Office of Michelle and Barack Obama on this day.”

While filming Obama for the documentary, there was only one rule.

Hallgren says that she was given unprecedented access to the former first lady. She was backstage at every book tour stop, rode with Obama in her motorcades, and spent time at her home. The only thing Obama requested about the footage was that Hallgren not shoot footage of her and her daughters at home. Hallgren agreed because it seemed like a fair request.

However, we did still get footage of Sasha and Malia but one moment really stands out.

During the documentary, Malia comes on to the screen to congratulate her mom on another book tour stop. It was a rare and honest look into Malia and Michelle’s relationship.

“On tours, the same things happen over and over again—you travel, you do the thing, you move on,” Hallgren told Vanity Fair. “So it was pretty much any other shoot, and Mrs. Obama was signing books…And so I’m filming Mrs. Obama, and Malia—I didn’t even see her coming—must’ve walked behind me. She came around to talk to her mom, and just said this amazingly thoughtful reflection that she had in that moment.”

You can watch “Becoming” on Netflix now.

Congratulations, Nadia! What a special moment to be a part of.

READ: Malia And Sasha Obama Speak About Their Mother Michelle Obama’s Success In Netflix Doc ‘Becoming’

Miguel & Christina Aguilera Sang Coco’s ‘Remember Me’ For Disney’s Singalong Special

Entertainment

Miguel & Christina Aguilera Sang Coco’s ‘Remember Me’ For Disney’s Singalong Special

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ABC went all out over the weekend with their second round of “The Disney Family Singalong” and man will it ease your worries.

If you didn’t already tune into the television special when it aired the first time around on April 16, the latest episode is definitely one to join in on. ABC started the new program in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and is meant to rally families, friends, and celebrities together for a night of entertainment, laughs and songs. The new series has already featured some of Disney’s most beloved musical numbers from its classic films which are sung by the top musicians currently in the game.

Last month, in April, stars like Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato, Beyoncé, and others gathered around their cameras to sing to families across the country for “The Disney Family Singalong.” The event, which was hosted by Ryan Seacrest, saw performers in their home environments using minimal equipment and “a whole lot of harmony” to get fans watching to join in on the fun. To make things seamless, the lyrics which featured Disney’s most popular songs were displayed at the bottom of the screen.

Anyway, for Mother’s Day, ABC kicked off a second episode of the special and it was pretty dang magical.

For “The Disney Family Singalong: Volume II,” ABC really reached for the stars, wrangling in the likes of Katy Perry, Idina Menzel, and John Legend.

But the best part of the night came when Miguel and Christina Aguilera joined forces to sing a bilingual rendition of “Remember Me” from Coco.

During their portion of the singalong special, Miguel and Aguilera belted out the lyrics to the Disney-Pixar classic singing both in English and Spanish. Making the performance even more special, an all-female Mariachi band joined in to bring life to the song’s melody.