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

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The 1997 ‘Cinderella’ Starring Brandy and Whitney Houston Will Finally Stream on Disney+ and Fans Can’t Contain Their Excitement

Entertainment

The 1997 ‘Cinderella’ Starring Brandy and Whitney Houston Will Finally Stream on Disney+ and Fans Can’t Contain Their Excitement

Photo via Disneyplus/Instagram

This one is for all you ’90s babies out there. Since Disney+ launched in 2019, the streaming service provided an endless selection of throw-back titles that sparked all of our nostalgia (we’re looking at you, “Gotta Kick it Up“).

But die-hard Disney fans couldn’t help but notice a mysterious and unexplained absence of a classic from their library. Where was the 1997 classic “Cinderella” starring Brandy?

Well finally, our prayers have been answered. On Thursday, Disney announced that “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” will be available for streaming on Disney+ on February 12th.

Many millennials–and maybe even some older Gen Zers–remember this version of “Cinderella” as the colorblind casting experiment that had a Black princess (played by Brandy), a South Asian prince (played by Paolo Montalban), a white stepmother (played by Bernadette Peters) and a Black fairy godmother (played by the late, great Whitney Houston).

At the time, the TV-movie was groundbreaking for its multiethnic cast. Even the background actors were from racially diverse.

“One of [the casting director’s] mantras, the philosophy that begat ‘Hamilton’ in fact, was to do color blind casting and always cast with diversity,” one of the movie’s producers explained to Shondaland in an oral history about the movie. “It informed how we looked at the world and how we looked at our projects. We want to reflect the world we’re working in.”

“We even got the dancers we wanted,” said another producer. “We cast Latino, Asian, white, and black dancers.”

Since the movie’s premiere in 1997, the entertainment industry has become much more open-minded when it comes to colorblind casting–a term that has now evolved into “color-conscious casting“.

Colorblind/conscious casting has become more mainstream due to cultural phenomena like “Hamilton” and “Bridgerton“.

According to Diep Tran, the associate editor of American Theatre magazine, color-conscious casting means “we’re aware of the historic discrimination in the entertainment industry and we’re also aware of what it means to put a body of color onstage.”

Naturally, fans of the 1997 film are over-the-moon that this Disney deep-cut is coming to a streaming service.

Fans have been campaigning for the movie to be on Disney+ since the streaming service launched in 2019

Twitter is awash with celebratory statements like “Brandy and Whitney Houston acting on a screen together is a beautiful blessing” and “IN TIME FOR VALENTINE’S DAY!!! GUESS WHAT MY HUSBAND IS NOW GOING TO BE FORCED TO WATCH WITH ME!!!”… Hey, that last one isn’t really a bad idea.

We, for one, will definitely be tuning in on February 12th to take a much-need walk down memory lane.

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The Definitive List of Latinos in the ‘Star Wars’ Universe

Entertainment

The Definitive List of Latinos in the ‘Star Wars’ Universe

Credit: felineastronaut/Twiiter; theguyinthechair18/Instagram; Star Wars/Twitter

Recently, news broke that beloved Mexican-American director Robert Rodriguez is set to executive producer Disney+’s new Star Wars series, The Book of Boba Fett. This news broke at the same event that Disney announced that Rosario Dawson will be getting her own Star Wars series on Disney+, a Mandalorian spinoff entitled Ahsoka.

Pair these events with Pedro Pascal headlining The Mandalorian, and it appears that Disney is making some real and concerted effort to hire Latino talent.

And the pattern didn’t just start this year. Since the franchise’s reboot in 2015, Disney has consistently hired Latinos to take part in Star Wars Universe in front of and behind the camera.

In light of this, we’ve compiled a definitive list of all of the Latinos that have been involved in the Star Wars Universe. Take a look below!

1. Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron

Credit: MayThe4rceBWYou/Twitter

Guatemalan-American actor Oscar Isaac was one of the first Latinos to set off Disney’s streak of hiring Latino talent for the Star Wars franchise. Isaac (nee Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada) played Poe Dameron, a fighter pilot who rose in the ranks to become General of the Resistance. He appeared in all three movies of the Star Wars reboot trilogy: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker.

2. Pedro Pascal as Mando

Credit: theguyinthechair18/Instagram

Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal plays the titular character in The Mandalorian (his true name is a spoiler), a solitary bounty hunter who travels to the “outer reaches” of the galaxy in order to protect Baby Yoda.

3. Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano

Credit: Star Wars/Twitter

This season, Rosario Dawson played Ahsoka Tano in The Mandolorian–an alien of the Togruta race who is also a Jedi knight and army commander. It was also recently announced that the actress of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent would be headlining a spinoff series on Disney+ entitled Ahsoka.

4. Diego Luna as Cassian Andor

Credit: felineastronaut/Twitter

Mexican actor Diego Luna played Rebel Alliance soldier Cassian Andor in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Luna will also star in his own standalone series revolving around Cassian Andor on Disney+ called Andor.

5. Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata

Credit: sw_holocron/Twitter

Mexican-born actress Lupita Nyong’o played alien pirate queen Maz Kanata via motion capture in all three of the Star Wars reboot trilogy: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker.

6. Benicio Del Toro as DJ

Credit: ComicBookNOW/Twitter

Boricua actor Benicio Del Toro played the villainous hacker DJ in The Last Jedi.

7. Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa

Credit: ComicBookNOW/Twitter

Brooklyn-born Boricua actor Jimmy Smits played Bail Organa in two of the Star Wars prequel movies, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith as well as reprising his role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

8. Horatio Sanz as Mythrol

Credit: TheSWU/Twitter

Although you might not recognize him through such heavy character makeup, Chilean-America comedian Horatio Sanz played Mythrol, a wanted fugitive that was carbon-frozen by Pascal’s character in the first episode of The Mandolorian.

9. John Leguizamo as Gor Koresh

Credit: TheRoninNews/Twitter

Again, you’d be hard-pressed to recognize John Leguizamo amidst all the heavy alien makeup, but the Colombian-American actor played the character Gor Koresh in The Mandolorian–boastful forager of the Abyssin alien race.

10. Robert Rodriguez

Credit: Getty Images

As we reported above, Robert Rodriguez is a legendary Mexican-American director who helmed a popular episode of The Mandolorian entitled “The Tragedy”. He is now set to executive produce a new Disney+ Star Wars series called The Book of Boba Fett.

11. Adria Arjona

Credit: adriaarjona/Instagram

Puerto Rican actress Adria Arjona has not officially appeared in any Star Wars properties yet, but it was recently announced that she will be appearing in Diego Luna’s Star Wars spinoff series Andor as a yet-to-be-named character.

12. Pablo Hidalgo

Credit: pabloarteche/Twitter

Pablo Hidalgo is the definition of behind-the-scenes talent. The Chilean-Canadian LucasFilm creative executive is in charge of keeping narrative and creative cohesion between all of the stories within the Star Wars Universe. In essence, he is the definitive Star Wars expert.

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