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Comedy icon Eddie Murphy has a big family. And come Mar. 5, one of his 10 kids will be starring alongside him in perhaps the most eagerly anticipated comedy of 2021. Eddie Murphy's 19-year-old daughter, Bella Murphy, makes her film debut in Coming 2 America, the sequel to his wildly adored 1988 comedy Coming to America. Keep reading to learn why Bella is just beginning to act professionally now and about the scene that had her dad threatening (jokingly!) to "ground" her. And for another chip off the old block, See James Gandolfini's Lookalike Son as Tony in the Sopranos Prequel.
Bella plays one of Prince Akeem's daughters.
The sequel—which will be streaming on Amazon Prime on Mar. 5—picks up with Akeem of Zamunda and his family more than 30 years after the events of the first movie. Akeem is still married to Lisa (Shari Headley), who he met on his trip to New York City, and they have three daughters. He then learns that he also has a grown son (Jermaine Fowler) from a fling he had with another woman back in Queens (Leslie Jones), before he met Lisa. Having a male heir complicates things for Akeem, since his eldest daughter Meeka (KiKi Layne) would be happy to take on the challenge if Zamunda allowed a woman to rule.
Bella Murphy plays Omma, one of Akeem and Lisa's younger daughters, and she quickly fell in love with the character. "Omma is super-smart, a little bit of a bad***, and she’s super-cool," Bella told Essence.
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She earned the role herself—and kept her dad's one rule about going into show business.
Speaking to ET Online, Eddie shared the most important boundary that he set for his children, should they want to follow him into acting. "I told [Bella] that she couldn't work until she was 18, but she started acting lessons, she was doing an acting school and stuff for maybe two years before that," he said.
When she learned of the age-appropriate role in her dad's new comedy, Bella was interested, but she wasn't just handed the job. "She auditioned for it and got the part," Eddie told ET.
Not only is Bella making her debut in a long-long-awaited sequel to a comedy classic, she also got to have family by her side. "Being able to do my first film with my dad is really special," she told Essence. "I’m over the moon."
For another show business family, check out How Mary-Kate&Ashley Stopped Elizabeth Olsen From Being a Child Star.
She still experienced some on-set jitters, and the star-studded cast didn't help.
"I was very nervous," Bella remembered when talking to ET Online. "You know, I didn't want people to think that I was just doing this because I can or I didn't want people to watch it and be like, 'Oh, that's his daughter because she can't keep up with everyone,' you know?"
She also recalled a particularly stressful scene in which their real-life father/daughter relationship came through on set. During a choreographed action scene, Bella came very close to whacking Eddie with a bow staff instead of striking where he was ready to block. "I saw his life flash before his eyes and we were just frozen there, and I was like, 'What's about to happen?'" Bella said. "And [director] Craig [Brewer] yelled cut, and after, my dad was like, 'You're grounded!'"
Her fears about wielding the weapon extended to the rest of the star-heavy cast, too. "I don't want to hit Wesley Snipes in the head with a stick…" she shared. "It was my first movie, and I don't wanna do that."
For more celebrity kids getting big jobs, check out Paul Walker's Daughter Just Landed Her First Major Modeling Gig.
Her dad felt some pressure following up his beloved comedy flick, too.
"The one thing that I didn’t want to do was a bad sequel to a movie that a lot of people have a lot invested," Eddie told Essence. "A lot of people grew up watching Coming to America. It’s special to them. So, you don’t want to taint that."
As for why Coming to America means so much to so many viewers, the older Murphy thinks that it's because "romantic fantasy comedy" films centering Black characters are still so rare. "Black people, we don’t get a lot of movies like this one…" he explained. "Usually, when we see ourselves on the screen, it’s heavy things…Rarely do we get just to go see some escapism."
And for the sequel fate Murphy wanted to avoid, check out The Worst Movie Sequel of All Time, According to Critics.