Cynthia Erivo to star as Blue Fairy in live-action ‘Pinocchio’

The actress will play a magical being known as Blue Fairy

Cynthia Erivo has been tapped to star in Disney’s live-action Pinocchio, directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on the 1940 animated classic.

The actress will play the Blue Fairy, a magical being who transforms Pinocchio into a real boy, per TheWrap. Benjamin Evan Ainsworth is voicing Pinocchio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Jiminy Cricket, Keegan-Michael Key will voice Honest John and Lorraine Bracco will voice the new character Sofia the Seagull. Tom Hanks is playing Geppetto, with Luke Evans playing The Coachman.

Zemeckis is also producing the project, which will debut on Disney+.  

Read More: FIRST LOOK: Cynthia Erivo transforms into a legend for ‘Genius: Aretha’

Meanwhile, Erivo will next star in the NatGeo’s Genius, in which she portrays late soul singer Aretha Franklin.

2020 Carousel Of Hope Ball

The eight-part series will premiere over four consecutive nights, beginning Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, and will explore Franklin’s artistry and musical career.

“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” Erivo said in a statement, theGRIO reported. “Her strength, passion and soul are evident in her everlasting legacy, not only as a transcendent artist, but as a humanitarian and civil rights icon. To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance, is an honor. What I know and have learned about what my voice, as an artist, can do and the power in it has been highly influenced by Franklin. I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.”

The series also stars Courtney B. Vance as civil rights activist C.L. Franklin, Malcolm Barrett portrays Franklin’s first husband Ted White, Patrice Covington is Erma Franklin, Kimberly Hébert Gregory plays talent agent Ruth Bowen, Rebecca Naomi Jones is Carolyn Franklin and Sanai Victoria stars as Little Re, per PEOPLE.

Erivo previously spoke about taking on the Franklin role amid a wave of criticism over a non-Black American playing the cultural icon. The Nigerian-born actress was raised in the U.K., and many foundational Black Americans have objected to her casting.

In a statement, the Harriet star said, “Over the last few months, I’ve been preparing myself to embody the Queen of Soul, from relistening to her music to discovering her rare interviews and reading some amazing books on her — all to really capture Aretha’s attitude and spirit.”

Erivo added, “I’m truly humbled to be working alongside a very talented and musical team. Together, we’ll serve the Queen and create something special.”

Read More: WATCH: Cynthia Erivo OWNS Oscars stage with ‘Stand Up’ performance despite losing Best Actress

In an interview with NME, Erivo said Franklin is “part of the tapestry of the voice I have.”

“The music I’ve learned and the performances I’ve done, she inspired a lot of it. She’s one of my heroes and I hope I can do justice to her achievements,” she said.

Genius: Aretha will premiere on May 25, 2020 at 9/8c on National Geographic.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Erivo will be starring in the upcoming Apple TV+ series Roar. Additionally, Her debut album drops this summer and Erivo has penned a children’s book set for release on Sept. 28.

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