Yes, Disney Should Cast Amber Riley as One of the Hercules Muses and That's 'The Gospel Truth'

Amber Riley performs onstage during the 2019 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Luncheon on February 21, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.
Amber Riley performs onstage during the 2019 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards Luncheon on February 21, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Rich Polk (Getty Images for Essence)

Disney’s Hercules should be included in the list of the legacy studio’s blackest films.

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The best part of the film? There’s no argument—the Muses took over the spotlight. Equipped with an array of killer songs (composed by the great Alan Menken) such as “The Gospel Truth” and “Zero to Hero,” the Muses were basically like Disney’s version of The Clark Sisters if the quintet served as a Greek chorus. Named Calliope, Clio, Melpomene, Terpsichore, and Thalia, the voices behind the original Muses were singers Lillias White, Vanéese Y. Thomas, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze and Roz Ryan.

Hercules - The Gospel Truth / YouTube

Well, The Disney Insider stirred the pot reporting that there are rumors of a live-action version of the 1997 animated film in the works. No official word yet from the Big Mouse, but given their trend toward live-action pivots in the past few years, the possibility of that actually happening isn’t that wild.

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Disney Insider’s Skyler Shuler reports:

The studio has tapped Jeffery Silver (The Lion King, Tron: Legacy) and Karen Gilchrist (The Lion King, The Mandalorian) to produce. The film is expected to be a theatrical release, not a Disney+ original like Lady and the Tramp, as well as Robin Hood and Lilo & Stitch both in pre-production. The film is expected to feature songs from the original animated film, with new ones likely being added.

Another huge thing I want to add to this piece are three directors that I’ve heard from pretty reliable sources that the studio is interested in to direct the project. Let me start off by saying these are just names I’ve heard and are by no means in any formal discussions.

The first name I’ve heard most recently from two different sources is Jon Favreau, Favreau has directed two of Disney’s most successful live-action remakes in 2016’s The Jungle Book and 2019’s The Lion King, which would re-team him with both Silver and Gilchrist.

Whether or not it’s confirmed, Amber Riley decided to jump in and try to secure the bag and I have to salute her for that. Closed mouths don’t get fed, after all. Besides, given the uncertain future of Hollywood amid the coronavirus pandemic, one might as well get booked and busy as early as possible.

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“Um hello! @DisneyStudios, remember me!” Riley tweeted on Wednesday, adding the hashtag, #AmberAsAMuse because she’s a goddamn marketing genius.

I mean, it makes sense. Riley already has a relationship with Disney, so she might as well extend it! With this casting choice, this rumor will definitely go from “zero to hero…just like that.”

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Naturally, Black Twitter decided they might as well try to cast the other four muses as well, because why not? Names such as Janelle Monaé, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Jazmine Sullivan, Kierra Sheard and more were tossed around the timeline.

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Oh, and if you haven’t seen it yet, get into this delightful behind-the-scenes moment of the voiceover session featuring the original Muses singers.

Hercules Recording Sessions / YouTube

The Root has reached out to Walt Disney Studios for comment.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

I’m not thrilled about this at all. This live-action remake of yet another cartoon is further proof that Disney, and the rest of Hollywood, has run out of original ideas.

It’s time to turn out the lights in Tinseltown.  The show is over.