US singer H.E.R. arrives for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
US singer H.E.R. Image Credit: AFP

Singer-songwriter H.E.R. has been cast as the much-loved Disney character Belle in an upcoming special, ‘Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration.’

The Grammy and Academy Award-winning R’n’B star will be the first Afro Filipina woman to play the part on screen.

The hybrid animated and live-action special is being executive produced by Jon M Chu and directed by Hamish Hamilton, and will release on ABC on December 15 before being made available to stream on Disney+ the next day.

“I can’t believe I get to be a part of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ legacy,” H.E.R. said in a statement, according to Deadline. “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.”

‘Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration’ marks three decades since the release of the animated movie in September 1991. The story revolved around a book-loving woman who get locked up in Beast’s castle and eventually falls in love with him. It was the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 64th Academy Awards in 1992, where it won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song.

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H.E.R. poses with their Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for "Fight For You," at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, April 3, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

“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.”

H.E.R., 25, has won five Grammy awards, including Song of the Year for the track ‘I Can’t Breathe’ in 2021. She is set to make her feature film debut in the upcoming adaptation of Alice Walker’s iconic book ‘The Color Purple’.