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Cinderella director Kay Cannon says LGBTQ representation isn’t just ‘important’, it’s ‘necessary’

The filmmaker tells Attitude why Billy Porter was the 'only person' for the role of the Fairy Godmother.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Amazon Prime Video

The director of Amazon’s modern retelling of Cinderella, Kay Cannon, says queer representation in films is not only important but also necessary. She also there’s little point in readapting a classic story such as Cinderella if you’re not modernising it.

In the 21st century take on the classic fairy tale – out today (3 September) on Amazon Prime Video – Cinderella, played by Camila Cabello, has ambitions of becoming a successful businesswoman rather than finding love at all. The film also stars Billy Porter as the genderless “Fab-G”, an original take on the iconic fairy Godmother character.

Kay Cannon is best known for her work writing and producing the Pitch Perfect films, as well as directing 2018’s Blockers.

“Billy is magic”

In an interview with Attitude to mark the film’s release Kay, says: “There’s no reason to do it [the film] unless you’re changing up these themes and you’re modernising it in a way that feels more relatable to who we’re seeing ourselves these days.”

As well as Cinderella’s new business ideas, the film also introduces new and original characters such as Princess Gwen, who perhaps best mirrors younger audience members with her switched on political activism and interest in climate change and fair taxes.

Speaking of reinvention, one of the film’s biggest attempts at that is Billy Porter’s “Fab-G”, the genderless take on the Fairy Godmother. Cannon explains that to make the role different from previous interpretations she initially made the role a man.

“I think the women, the actresses who have played the Fairy Godmother have been so incredible. I was like, how can I make this different? So immediately it has to be a man. Magic doesn’t have to have a gender. So I wrote it as a man, and then, quite honestly, to me, I just felt like Billy Porter was the only one who could play this. Billy is magic, Billy is an amazing singer, artist, entertainer, and he’s ridiculously funny and he’s gay.”

But after casting and speaking to Porter about the role, it developed into a genderless character. 

Billy Porter and Director Kay Cannon on the set of Cinderella (Photo: Amazon Prime Video)

“It’s so important I would also say it’s necessary” Kay continues on the topic of queer representation in film. She points to the casting of transgender actress Jenet Le Lacheur, who plays Prince Robert’s best friend Count Wilbur, who Kay says was cast simply because she was the best person for the role, unaware of her trans identity.

“When I met her, she was like ‘I’m transgender’, [and she’s] playing a man. Something we did behind the scenes, which I’m really proud of, is her stand-in was also a woman. We cast a woman as her stand-in because Jenet is a woman. I was really proud of us that we didn’t cast a guy”.

Discussing the movie’s contemporary feel, Cannon hopes there’s a character for everybody and people discover something new, and wanted the movie to have a multi-generational appeal.

Cinderella is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video now. Check out the trailer out below.

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