H.E.R. to Star as Belle in ABC's 'Beauty and the Beast' Special in Historic Casting

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

The singer-songwriter is the first Afro Filipina woman to play the Disney princess onscreen.

H.E.R. is now a Disney princess. The GRAMMY and Oscar-winning singer and songwriter will take on the role of Belle in ABC's forthcoming live-action/animated Beauty and the Beast special celebrating the movie's 30th anniversary, the network announced Wednesday. Her casting marks the first time an Afro Filipina woman will step into the shoes of the iconic character onscreen.

According to ABC, H.E.R. will take part in "never-before-seen musical performances celebrating and paying homage to the beloved tale" in the two-hour Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration, which will be recorded in front of a live audience at Disney Studios and air Thursday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

The 25-year-old will join previously announced executive producer Jon M. Chu and director Hamish Hamilton on the special. Additional castings will be announced at a later date.

“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!” said H.E.R. in a statement. “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.”

“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,” Chu said. “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.”

This year marks 30 years since Beauty and the Beast earned a Best Picture nomination and won for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1992.

H.E.R. will also serve as a producer on the special. The Beauty and the Beast casting comes on the heels of the singer making her acting debut in the 2023 movie musical, The Color Purple, opposite Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, Corey Hawkins, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Ciara and Aunjanue Ellis.

ABC last produced a similar live-action/animated special for The Little Mermaid on Nov. 5, 2019, which featured performances from Auli'i Cravalho as Ariel, Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastian, John Stamos as Chef Louis and Amber Riley as original character Emcee.

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