It’s a tale as old as time, and singer/songwriter H.E.R. is going to be the one telling it.
The Grammy and Academy award-winning artist has been tapped to play Belle in ABC’s upcoming animated and live-action hybrid special, “Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration.” Directed by Hamish Hamilton with Jon M. Chu as executive producer, the special honors the 30-year anniversary of the Disney classic being historically nominated for the 1992 Oscars Award for Best Picture, the first-ever animated film to be considered for the award.
H.E.R., whose real name is Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, sets a different record this time around as the first-ever Afro Filipino actor to play the role of Belle on screen.
“I can’t believe I get to be a part of the Beauty and the Beast legacy. The world will see a Black and Filipino Belle!” H.E.R. said in a statement on Thursday. “I have always wanted to be a Disney princess, and I get to work with two wonderful directors Hamish Hamilton and my favorite, Jon M. Chu. It is very surreal and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
The two-hour special will pay homage to the 1991 film while adding to the story, featuring original live performances on reimagined sets with new costumes. Although performances will be taped in front of a live audience, the special will be available on Dec. 15 on ABC then on Disney Plus the following day.
H.E.R. has earned 20 Grammy Award nominations and four wins over the past four years, on top of an Academy Award for the song “Fight For You” featured in the film “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The artist is set to make her debut acting performance in a movie adaptation of the Broadway musical version of “The Color Purple.”
Chu expressed his excitement over the casting of H.E.R. in a statement: “With her obvious extraordinary talent and stage presence, H.E.R. is the perfect embodiment of our Belle and we are thrilled for audiences to see her in this celebration of creativity. We were both influenced as storytellers by the original animated movie, so it’s very exciting to collaborate together to honor the artistry of that timeless classic while also inspiring a whole new generation of creators.”