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Live television renditions of our favorite stories told on film and broadway have seen much success over the years, including productions of Grease: Live and The Little Mermaid Live! amongst other made-for-TV musicals.

Next up is a holiday TV special on NBC for Annie Live!, and the upcoming performance of the popular 1976 musical will star a Black actress as the beloved little orphan Annie.

12-year-old actress Celina Smith will don the classic red dress as Annie, who many are used to seeing portrayed by a white actress with curly red hair much like the character was in the popular 1982 theatrical film, its 1995 direct-to-TV sequel and a Disney-produced remake in 1999. Of course, many will remember the color barrier being broken back in 2014 when then-11-year-old Black actress Quvenzhané Wallis played the title role in yet another high-profile remake produced by a team including Will Smith and Jay-Z.

Smith landed the part after a nationwide search according to The Hollywood Reporter, following impressive career moves playing Young Nala on tour with The Lion King in addition to costarring in Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan on Nickelodeon.

More on the role and her star-studded cast below, via THR:

“Smith joins previously announced stars Taraji P. Henson (Miss Hannigan), Harry Connick Jr. (Daddy Warbucks), Nicole Scherzinger (Grace) and Tituss Burgess (Rooster). The live production is set to air on NBC on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

The production, directed by Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski, is set to be executive executive produced by Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Rudzinski.”

Congratulations, young starlet! Take a look at Celina Smith’s joyful reaction to the news of her snagging the lead role in Annie Live! below:


‘Annie Live!’ Casts Black Actress In Title Role For Upcoming NBC Holiday TV Special  was originally published on