Brandy says this is who ‘Moesha’ would be today in a reboot
EXCLUSIVE: The singer-actress reacts to the sitcom's new home at Netflix, and recalls her real-life Cinderella moment with her 'fairy godmother' Whitney Houston
Brandy Norwood is best known as one of the top-selling R&B artists of her time, but it was her talent as an actress that first introduced her to American audiences.
Before she released her self-titled debut album in 1994, Brandy starred as Danesha Turrell in the short-lived ABC sitcom, Thea. After the explosion of her music career, Brandy was tapped to star in her own TV series, Moesha, as the eponymous teen girl navigating life and family in Los Angeles, California.
Moesha went on to become a Black sitcom classic after running on-air for six seasons. Nearly 20 years after its series finale, Moesha has seen a bit of a resurgence after finding a new home on Netflix. Since its debut on the streaming platform, the show remained a trending topic of sorts.
“I feel so good about Moesha, just what it’s doing on Netflix … that people still have a yearn for it. They want to see it. I am so glad they have all six seasons. It’s cool,” Brandy told theGrio during an in-depth interview.
What’s more, Brandy says, is that all the attention back on Moesha is a step closer to her goal of getting the teen dramedy a reboot.
Brandy told theGrio she’s currently in discussions to bring Moesha back to the present day, but emphasized she doesn’t yet know for sure if a reboot is going to happen. “I don’t know the details yet, but I definitely feel like I’m a lot closer because of what it’s doing on Netflix and the fact that it’s going to stay there forever. I just would love to see who Moesha is today. What is she up to, you know?”
When asked if Moesha would be married or have children, Brandy said she’s not certain. One thing she does know for sure is that Moesha would be a “kick-ass journalist.”
“That’s just keeping it to what it was like when she was coming up. That was her thing,” said Brandy. “She knew exactly that she wanted to be a writer. So I think she would be a journalist and I think she would also be an author.“
Brandy also recalled what is likely her most critical role as an actress, which was her portrayal of Disney’s first Black Cinderella in the 1997 musical film, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. As the story goes, Whitney Houston handpicked Brandy to play the Disney princess alongside herself as the fairy godmother.
For Brandy, the entire experience — including sharing the studio and set with her musical idol — felt like a real-life Cinderella moment.
“I had many, many moments of not being able to believe my life,” said Brandy.
“[Cinderella’s] dream was to, you know, marry the prince and get out of the crazy household that she was in and her dreams were coming true. It’s like my dream as me was coming true as well. Me getting the chance to work with Whitney. Me getting a chance to sing with her in the studio. So I was living through Cinderella … Cinderella’s dreams were coming true and Brandy’s dreams [were] coming true,” she added.
Being chosen to play Cinderella felt like such a dream that Brandy says she almost hung up on Houston when she got the news. “It was an out-of-body experience … I probably didn’t feel like I put it in enough work … like I just came out like a couple of years ago,” recalled Brandy, who was 18 at the time.
Brandy’s Cinderella moment is one she says she’ll never forget, particularly getting the opportunity to record with Houston who is appropriately nicknamed “The Voice.” In fact, one clip of Brandy and Houston in the studio recording the soundtrack for Cinderella has made its rounds on social media over the years.
The clip shows Brandy singing a note to Houston in her signature soft, raspy voice to which Houston says, “why are you down there?!” before she sings the same lyric in a much higher octave.
“I was trying to give her a note that she should hit up there,” said Brandy as she pointed up to the ceiling. “I had to sing it for her in an octave lower. She says, ‘Why are you down there?’ Well, because, darling, I can’t go up to where you can go!”
“I think the reason why that clip always circulates because it’s so funny and you can just really see how much we loved each other,” said Brandy.
Ultimately, Brandy says, she cherishes those times with the late Houston, whom she considered her mentor and friend. “Working with her in general I was nervous but it was something about her energy that always made me feel like I could be myself,” she said. “We had some really cool moments and I just miss her.”
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