Emerald Fennell has said hosting a gala performance of her new musical Cinderella to raise money for Malala Yousafzai’s fund means “a huge amount to all of us”.
Written by The Crown star Fennell and starring Carrie Hope Fletcher with music by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, the stage musical opened in the summer after months of pandemic delays.
Ms Yousafzai and her husband Asser Malik were among the guests at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London on Monday night.
Speaking ahead of the performance, Fennell told the PA news agency: “I think Malala is the most incredible inspiration to everyone in the world, and most particularly women and girls.
“She has fought for human rights and equal rights, and so just to be able to help her fund in any small way that we can means a huge amount to all of us.”
Cinderella is described as a “complete reinvention” of the classic fairytale, and is based on an original idea by Fennell.
Speaking about its themes of female empowerment, she said: “I would never be so bold as to equate anything that we would do with someone like Malala’s work.
“But I hope that any story that centres young women can only be a good thing.”
On theatre’s return after lockdown, she added: “It is amazing. It is so heartwarming. I think we all missed it so much and so I feel incredibly grateful to be here.”
Ms Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at the age of 15 after campaigning for girls to be educated in her native Pakistan.
Since recovering from her injuries, the Nobel Prize laureate has continued to be a prominent campaigner for the rights of women and girls.
Proceeds from the performance will go to the Malala Fund, which aims to support the education of girls around the world.
Sir Ben Kingsley and his wife Daniela Lavender, musician and presenter Myleene Klass, Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, David Walliams and his mother Kathleen, and filmmaker Paul Feig were also mong those in attendance.