Let me tell you about my friend, Alex Grow. HUGE Newsies fan. Well, when you’re a kid (or an adult, come to think of it) and your friends want to play Newsies, EVERYBODY fights for the HONOR of playing Jack “Cowboy” Kelly. And don’t you dare call him by his legal name, Francis Sullivan! He shed that geeky thing like snake skin, when he rode out of “The Refuge” on Teddy Roosevelt’s carriage. But OBVIOUSLY, if you can’t be “Cowboy,” you want to be Spot Conlon from Brooklyn because: a) He’s essentially Billy The Kid with a sling-shot, and B) Let’s just be honest, nobody is scrambling to be Les, Mush, or Crutchy. Back to Alex. Alex is part of the 1-2% of humans that have red hair. “Cowboy” doesn’t have red hair. “Spot Conlon” doesn’t have red hair. So…WHO can Alex be? Navigate your mind to the opening song, Carrying the Banner. As the song ends, recall the Newsies at the gate, waiting to enter and retrieve their “papes.” Well, before the gate opens, a young boy wheels out a stack of “papes” and utters 5 words: “Deez is for da Newsies.” A noble line, but highly forgettable face. What does that creep have to do with Alex, you ask? EVERYTHING. That young, paper-wheeling child has RED HAIR. Alex has RED HAIR. Alex is now unequivocally and irrevocably the, “Deez is for da Newsies” kid. He didn’t choose that life. It chose him. Well, his friends and family saying “you have red hair. You have to be the ‘deez is for da Newsies’ kid” chose it. Poor Alex. He could have been a great “Cowboy,” but alas.
Believe me, this “I look the most similar, therefore, I am” precedent transcends WAY beyond Newsies and into Disney Princesses, superheroes, cartoon characters…you name it!
My favorite movie ever is “Rad.” 1986 BMX film. Cru Jones, Bart Taylor, and Aunt Becky from Full House. Cru Jones: local legend turned international sensation when he absolutely dominates Hell Track. Long story short, Cru Jones has dark hair. Bart Taylor has blonde hair. I have blonde hair. My older brother and young brother have dark hair and always got to be Cru Jones and inevitably, I was/am Bart Taylor. Bart loses the race. I lose the race.
This next experience actually had nothing to do with hair color. I have a set of twins in my family, older by 18 months, and the three of us REALLY loved Sleeping Beauty (ESPECIALLY the Fairy Godmothers). There are three Fairy Godmothers: Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. We loved them. we wanted to be them. We creatively used dry spaghetti noodles for wands. So which Fairy Godmother were you, Chet? Merryweather. In case you don’t know, Merryweather is short, chubby, and ill-tempered. I always had to be Merryweather. Why? Because in the event that nobody has the correct hair color, the ages of siblings/friends somehow endow them with “first pick” priorities, and ultimately, youngest gets the scraps. Today, I would happily choose Merryweather, but back then, it was more of a “Second Fiddle” decision.
Bottom line, if you want to be a Disney Princess, a Fairy Godmother, one of the cool Newsies, a Superhero etc., you better pray that your genetic coding is up to snuff, otherwise those insensitive, “I look the most like her, so I get to be her” children will torrentially rain ALL DAY on your parade. Make it easy on yourself. Avoid playing with children that look like your favorite fictional characters. The only other solution if to be significantly bigger, and older, at which point, humble obedience will determine the roles.