Alyssa Cheatham, who played Will Smith’s daughter in the 2016 movie “Collateral Beauty,” is quickly becoming a kid’s TV star.
Next up for the Brooklyn-born 11-year-old is a lead role on “Santiago of the Seas,” an animated preschool series premiering next month on Nick Jr. She plays a pirate girl who can transform into a mermaid named “Lorelai.”
“Black mermaids are real,” she says. “I play a black singing mermaid and she can turn from a mermaid into a pirate girl. She can also control the seas, which is really cool, and she goes on adventures with her friend Santiago along with his cousin, Tomas. They fight crime in the sea against sea monsters and stuff like that.
“I really hope that all kids, especially kids of color, will have positive representation because it really matters,” she says. “There are not enough black people in the media and, if they are, they’re kind of represented in a bad way.
“I want kids to know that if they work hard, go to school and study they can be anything they want to be.”
[Cheatham also has a lead role in “Made by Maddie,” an animated series that was supposed to premiere Sept. 13 on Nick Jr. — but was pulled last Friday over concerns it shares too many similarities with the Oscar-nominated animated short movie “Hair Love.” There’s no word on when, or if, “Made by Maddie” will see the light of day.]
Cheatham says that her dream role is to play a superhero like Chadwick Boseman, the star of “Black Panther” who died Aug. 28 from colon cancer at the age of 43.
“I was so sad and shocked when I found out about Chadwick Boseman because that was the first black superhero that I have ever seen,” she says. “To see him gone really broke my heart. I was in bed sitting with my mom and I saw her gasp and I said, ‘What’s happening’ and I saw the news that he died and I was so heartbroken. I was really hoping to see him in ‘Black Panther II.’”
Cheatham is a big fan of Yara Shahidi, Marsai Martin and, most of all, Beyoncé.
“Her work is incredible,” she says. “She gives so much power to so many people, especially people of color. I would love to be a part of one of her shows.”
She’s taking her success in stride, though she says there’s one way she would like to celebrate her new show. “I’m hoping to buy a really cute Gucci bag because I love that brand,” she says. “I was actually begging my mom last year for [a Gucci bag] for Christmas. She was like, ‘You’re a little too young for that,’ so I was so upset.
“Maybe when I’m a little older I can buy it myself.”