Cinderella Has Finally Become the Hero of Her Own Story

I’m one of seven kids and from a very small town in rural Illinois. There was a lot of running around getting dirty and needing to be scrappy to get enough to eat at dinnertime. So while I could relate to Cinderella always having dirt on her face, I didn’t connect to the idea that a prince would swoop down and rescue me. Fairy tales, in general, lost me when they featured princesses who were waiting to be saved. My parents always taught me that the way you improved your life was through hard work and belief in yourself. And that the things in life worth achieving never just fell in your lap.

So when James Corden told me his idea to retell Cinderella using contemporary songs, I was so excited. Finally, I could rewrite the story as I have always imagined it. I knew I could take this beloved character and make her more relatable. Make her more active. Make her the hero of her own story. 

Beyond that, I wanted her appeal to cross gender lines and age groups. So that any she’s, he’s, or they’s could watch this movie and understand the message: Not only should everybody be allowed to have dreams, they should be allowed to actively pursue them. 

Star Camila Cabello and director Kay Cannon on set.Amazon/ Everett Collection

My Cinderella rebels against the people who tell her she can’t pursue her passion. She ignores the dream crushers and gatekeepers and bets on herself. And with the help of the Fab G, she goes to the ball—not to meet the prince, but to network and work toward her dream of owning her own business. 

 And when the prince says, “She’s the one” and picks her to be his princess, she doesn’t let it derail her. I remember when I was right out of college, I had to decide which path my life would take: There was the more conservative choice of getting married and settling down. And then there was another path. The unbeaten one. It required me to take a big leap—alone and without a safety net. I ultimately chose the latter. It was terrifying. But I got into improv and performing, my true passion, and I’m happy that I did. Looking back, I felt like I chose myself because it was what I truly wanted. It’s a lesson I’m trying to impart to my own daughter: Whatever choice one makes is okay, as long as it’s the one that you want. You can pick yourself.

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