Filipino-American artist H.E.R. has been cast as Belle of Beauty and the Beast, making her the first Black and Filipina artist to portray the iconic Disney princess on screen.
The acclaimed R&B singer-songwriter will also serve as a producer in addition to taking on the titular role of Belle in “Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration”, an upcoming animated and live-action blended anniversary special on American television network ABC.
Grammy award-winning H.E.R., whose real name is Gabriella “Gabi” Sarmiento Wilson, announced that she’s excited for the world to see a new kind of Belle.
“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 the ABC press release on July 20, 2022. “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.”
According to the release, Jon M. Chu will executive produce, and Hamish Hamilton is set to direct the two-hour reimagining of the timeless classic film that will also feature never-before-seen musical performances paying tribute to the original.
The director of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “In the Heights” said that H.E.R was perfect for the role of Belle, the lovable bookworm and headstrong character who yearns for adventure in the original 1991 animated movie by Walt Disney.
“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.”
Presented by The Wonderful World of Disney, “Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration” will air on December 15, 2022, on ABC and on the streaming platform Disney+ the next day.
H.E.R. is set to make her big-screen acting debut in The Color Purple, which will hit theaters in 2023.
The Filipino-American award-winning singer also follows the footsteps of Filipino Broadway royalty Lea Salonga, the singing voice of Disney Princesses Jasmine in Aladdin and Mulan.
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