A few months ago, I developed a plan. I saw that Keke Palmer, the talented film and television actor, was coming to Broadway to portray Cinderella. I can't say that I am a fan of Cinderella, because of my disdain for most of the classic princess fairy tales. However, I had to put that aside. I wanted to support Ms. Palmer in this venture. It is rare for an African-American to be cast as an iconic princess. If people support the show while she is in the role, perhaps more actors of color will be given these types of roles.
After buying tickets to Cinderella, I remembered that Misty Copeland, one of my daughter's heroes, was performing as The Princess in an American Ballet Theatre version of The Nutcracker. In addition, there was a new film version of Annie being released, starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx. Thus, the Brown Girl Trilogy was created.
I believe it is meaningful for my daughter to see a Keke Palmer as Cinderella or a Misty Copeland as The Princess. As a man of color, specifically a Black man, I do feel it is important to have my daughter see images of successful women who look like her. I want my daughter to see productive, talented, inspirational brown people throughout her life. I want my daughter to know that she can be anything. How people of color are portrayed in pop culture and the roles they receive does play a role in this. Seeing people who look like her in roles that have very rarely, if ever, been in the hands of a person of color will not hurt her confidence development. I remember the first time I read a Black Panther comic and having such a feeling of pride. Here was this Black hero from the African nation of Wakanda, a nation never invaded because of their highly advanced technology. It's important to see people who look like you in all aspects of life.
So, yeah, I want my daughter to know that some longstanding characters can be portrayed by someone with brown skin or a different sex. And maybe, just maybe, during her lifetime debates like the one about Michael B. Jordan portraying Johnny Storm or Idris Elba as James Bond or Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck on Battlestar Galatica will end. I won't hold my breath, but like Cinderella, Clara, and Annie, I can dream.