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H.E.R. to star as Belle in ABC’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ 30th anniversary special

H.E.R.’s casting marks the first time an Afro Filipina woman will play the role of Belle on screen.
Image: H.E.R.
H.E.R. performs during H.E.R.'s Lights On Festival Bay Area at Concord Pavilion on Sept. 19, 2021 in Concord, Calif.Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images file

H.E.R. is set to play Belle in ABC’s upcoming hybrid special in celebration of the 30th anniversary of “Beauty and the Beast.”

The special was originally announced at the beginning of July. Alongside a screening of the film, it will include live never-before-seen musical performances and features brand-new sets and costumes inspired by the classic story. Each performance is created to pay homage while also adding to the iconic story for viewers at home.

Songs from the original animated classic will be performed in front of a live audience at Disney Studios, though the special will not be shot live. The special will air on ABC on Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. ET and will be available to stream the following day on Disney+. Jon M. Chu is executive producing with Hamish Hamilton onboard to direct.

“I can’t believe I get to be a part of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ legacy,” H.E.R. said. “The world will see a Black and Filipino Belle! 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.”

H.E.R. is a five-time Grammy winner, including a win for song of the year for “I Can’t Breathe” in 2021 from her debut album “Back of My Mind.” She is also an Academy Award winner for her song “Fight For You” from the critically-acclaimed film “Judas and the Black Messiah.” She will make her feature acting debut in the Warner Bros. adaptation of “The Color Purple.”

“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,” said Chu. “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.”

“Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration” is produced by Done+Dusted in association with Walt Disney Television Alternative and Electric Somewhere. Executive producers are Chu, Caitlin Foito, Hamilton, Raj Kapoor, Richard Kraft and Katy Mullan. H.E.R. serves as producer.

“Beauty and the Beast” was released in late 1991 and went on to achieve considerable box office and critical acclaim. In 1992, it became the first animated film to be nominated for the Oscar for best picture. It ultimately won two Oscars — one for best original score and another for best original song.

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