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Keke Palmer is already the one of the youngest talk-show hosts of all time. And, she's about to make history again. Palmer will become the first African-American Cinderella on Broadway when she steps into the title role of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical on September 9. At 21, Palmer will also be the youngest actress to portray the heroine in a professional stage production of the rags-to-royalty tale.
As happy as this news makes us, a quick glance at the calendar reminds us that it's 2014. Broadway should not have waited this long to start color-blind casting. Norm Lewis, who made history in May when he took the title role in The Phantom of the Opera, says that there is still a glass ceiling for Broadway actors. "You don’t ever see African-American men being the romantic lead [in Broadway shows]," Lewis told The Grio.
Nikki M. James, who recently stepped into the iconic role of Éponine in Les Misérables, expressed a similar sentiment. "Theater is one of the places where we can do nontraditional casting, where we don't have to be bound by some of the rules that I'm sure people in film or television feel they're bound by. But I also feel like in the commercial theater, people often aren't as brave as they could be," she told The Wall Street Journal. Hopefully, Keke's role in Cinderella will continue the nontraditional casting trend — until it's not a trend, but just the way things are.