Bernadette Peters Talks ‘Annie Live!’s Diverse Casting & Teases Return Of ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’

Emmy Award nominee Bernadette Peters fully supports the casting of Celina Smith, a young Black actress to lead NBC’s Annie Live!, a musical TV special with Smith portraying little orphan Annie.

Celina Smith
Kahran Bethencourt/CreativeSoul Photography

“Yes, I think as long as it makes sense, and I think it does,” Peters, who starred in the 1982 film Annie, told Deadline at the Creative Emmy Awards on Sunday. “I think that was a fabulous idea. I think changing casting and making things more diverse is a great idea.”

The character of Annie was born in the 1924 comic strip created by Harold Gray as a young white girl with curly red hair, which is how the character was portrayed on Broadway and in the 1982 film.

A 2014 contemporary remake of the 1982 film also titled Annie, cast Quvenzhané Wallis as the titular character. It was the first project to have a Black actress portray the lead.

Peters was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Deb in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, a series she’s excited to see return as a holiday movie after Roku saved the series from NBC’s cancellation.

“I’m thrilled because I think it’s a fabulous show with music, hearing what’s in people’s hearts,” she said. “It’s a very human show and I think that’s important right now—people’s feelings and caring about each other and it’s a family. And the cast is so talented. I mean, you can’t find better musical people. I think it’s so great that we have a holiday movie. I just did a read-through of it and it’s great, they put together fabulous music and a wonderful story. I’m encouraged that we’ll see what happens but I’m thrilled that it’s happening.”

Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas will begin filming in Vancouver later this month.


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