After 30 years of staging “Cinderella,” a North Carolina theater has cast a black actress in the leading role.
Destiny Diamond McNeill, a 22-year-old a senior at North Carolina State University, will play Cinderella in the Raleigh Little Theatre’s annual production of the classic. McNeill told The Huffington Post the role is a “dream come true.”
“I am getting the chance to break through a ceiling that black girls can’t be Cinderella,” she said.
The Theatre’s first production of Cinderella was in 1984. Until now, the leading role as Cinderella, has only been played by white actresses.
McNeil told WRAL, a local North Carolina news station, that she is excited to “bring a new look” for girls in the audience, who look like her.
“Knowing that I’m bringing something new to the table, I definitely don’t want to mess up,” she said. “But a lot of excitement comes because I get to bring a new look for girls who look like me in the audience who have never seen that before. That’s exciting.”
“To me getting this role, is saying we can do it,” she told HuffPost
McNeill auditioned for the role the year prior and even got a call back — but her stellar audition this year proved she was the “best choice” for the role, Patrick Torres, the artistic director of Raleigh Little Theatre told HuffPost.
“First, she got casted because she was the best choice for the role,” Torres said. “As a theater we really value diversity in all areas and just thrilled to have her take on that role as an African-American woman.”
As for the response from the university community and beyond, Charles Phaneuf, the executive director of Raleigh Little Theatre, says it’s all been “positive.”
“I’ve only heard positive things,” he said. “It’s exciting for a young person to see someone in this type of role they don’t normally see.”
Indeed, McNeill told HuffPost she hopes to inspire other black women and women of color — as she feels inspired by women like Misty Copeland, the first black woman ballet principal dancer.
“Misty Copeland inspires me,” she said. “I’m a dancer first, always. I hope maybe one day now someone can see me and think, I can do that too.”
The “Cinderella” production began December 4 and will conclude December 20.
McNeill plans to attend graduate school for musical theater after graduation. She aspires to move to New York City and eventually be on Broadway.
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