A Black-Girl-Positive 'Cinderella'

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The African American Shakespeare Company produces its annual holiday 'Cinderella.' (Photo: Courtesy of African American Shakespeare Company)

The culture of the princess is an exacting one, and little girls (and sometimes boys) may feel they're failing some prettiness contest that their parents didn't even know they'd entered.

That can be especially cruel for black girls, according to African American Shakespeare Company Executive Director Sherri Young, who's also directing the company's annual holiday show, Cinderella. So Young has remade this annual holiday comedy into a black-girl-positive version in which the ball gown is nice, but it's better for little girls to find their inner strength, prince or no prince.

“Because I’ve heard things, like little girls will say, 'Why am I black?'" Young told me. "'Can I scrub this color off of my skin? Because the other little girls don’t want me to be a princess. They say I can’t be a princess.' So it’s important to change these perceptions. And our production actually flips that and gives that empowerment to our young black girls to be proud of themselves.”

The timing couldn't be better, with American mixed-race actress Meghan Markle planning to marry Prince Harry. No doubt about it: he's marrying up. Details here.