H.E.R. is making major moves after earning the lead role of Belle in ABC’s Beauty and the Beast. Today (July 20), the network revealed the Grammy-winning artist would star in the live-action remake. The special will celebrate the 1991 Disney animated film’s 30th anniversary. The original movie took home two Academy Awards for title song and original score. Jon M. Chu (In the Heights) will executive produce the show.
H.E.R. (whose real name is Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson) released a statement following the announcement. “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!” she said. The “Best Part” artist continued, “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 Hollywood Reporter, the live-action special will follow the original script, but viewers can expect a few surprises. A live audience will experience the magic during a Dec. 15 taping of the production.
Chu was happy to discuss his excitement about working with the California native. “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,” the executive producer 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,” he added. H.E.R. will reportedly receive a producer credit for the special.
As she takes on the role of a character who is white in the original film, the “Slide” artist isn’t the only Black woman to break barriers in the world of Disney princesses. Halle Bailey will play Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of the 1989 hit movie, The Little Mermaid. The singer wrapped filming last year. As previously reported by REVOLT, Bailey faced criticism for playing Ariel, who was portrayed as white in the original film. “I feel like I’m dreaming, and I’m just grateful, and I don’t pay attention to the negativity,” she shared. “I just feel like this role was something bigger than me and greater, and it’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it,” Bailey added.