‘Sneakerella’ stars Chosen Jacobs and John Salley on rehearsing for a musical, filming, and more

The new Disney+ film is the latest adaptation of Cinderella, gender-swapping the roles

Get ready for Sneakerella! The new Cinderella adaptation has officially dropped on Disney+ and theGrio sat down with stars Chosen Jacobs and John Salley to talk about the film.

The original film takes the story of Cinderella and drops it right into the world of street-sneaker culture in NYC, while also gender-swapping the characters. Jacobs (It, It: Chapter 2, Hawaii 5-0) plays El in the film, “an aspiring sneaker designer from Queens who works as a stock boy in the shoe store that once belonged to his late mother.”

Held back by his mean stepfather and step-siblings, everything changes when he meets Kira, played by Little Fires Everywhere star Lexi Underwood, the daughter of sneaker legend and basketball star Darius King, played by Salley.

What follows is a story all about finding your purpose and chasing after your dreams.

Disney’s “Sneakerella” stars Chosen Jacobs as El, and Lexi Underwood as Kira King. (Disney/Roger Erickson)

“It’s really about a journey of loving yourself, and loving your community and who you are and your differences,” Jacobs told us, breaking down his initial reaction to the script. “Once I saw that that really was the root of the story, I feel like that’s a principle that transcends generations.” Jacobs also told us he was excited to take his own stab at Cinderella, a story that has had many interpretations, referring to it as, “a green light.”

Salley, a four-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Detroit Pistons heard two things that told him he should take on the role: Disney and musical. He explained, “I knew exactly what it was!”

Disney+'s "Sneakerella" Premiere
John Salley attends Disney’s “Sneakerella” Premiere on May 11, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Salley, who has acted in films including Bad Boys II and Confessions of a Shopaholic, since his NBA days, says he’s not the type of actor to scoff at having to audition for a role. He explained, “I wanted the director to be as comfortable with me as possible.”

A film as involved as Sneakerella demanded a lot of rehearsal time, something both actors say they cherished.

“We had about a month to learn the dances and also record the songs and it was in the heat of the pandemic, so, that was my only time of interaction,” Jacobs explained. “I feel like that helped us to focus in and bond as well. I feel like a lot of our character development…really came from those days of dancing together and sweating together, trying to create something beautiful.”

Salley added, “You have to look like you’re doing it on stage, so we just did it. I knew I was in a musical but, wow…I was way more comfortable with the rapping because I used to rap when I was young, but the steps! Liz (Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum) is a great director and the reason I say that is because you don’t see so many of the steps!”

Sneakerella is available to stream now on Disney+. Watch the trailer below:

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