Award-winning American R&B singer and songwriter, Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, known professionally as H.E.R, will now be adding “Disney Princess” to her many accolades. The five-time Grammy Award winner has been cast for the role of Belle in ABC’s upcoming hybrid live-action special in celebration of Beauty and The Beast’s 30th anniversary!
H.E.R.’s casting marks the first time an Afro-Filipina woman will play the role of Belle on screen. The rest of the talented cast, whose performances will be seamlessly woven through the original feature film, 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. “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
The special was originally announced at the beginning of July. Alongside a screening of the film, it will include never-before-seen live musical performances and feature brand-new sets and costumes inspired by the classic story. Each performance was created to pay homage while also adding to the iconic story for viewers at home.
A MUSICAL FORCE
H.E.R has been singing and performing since girlhood. At the age of 10, little Gabi Wilson was singing in her father’s cover band. When she was 12, she got her big break as one of five finalists on a radio show contest. This was hosted by Radio Disney (but she lost). She got her real break, however, when she signed her first record deal with Sony at age 14.
PRODUCER CHU ON H.E.R AS BELLE
“With her obvious extraordinary talent and stage presence, H.E.R. is the perfect embodiment of our Belle. We are thrilled for audiences to see her in this celebration of creativity,” says Executive producer – 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.”
Although the special will not be shot live, songs from the original animated classic will be performed in front of a live audience at Disney Studios. The special will air on ABC on December 15th at 8 p.m. ET and will be available to stream the following day on Disney+Next year.
H.E.R has proven herself as a versatile force to be reckoned with, earning 20 Grammy Award nominations and four wins. 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” in the critically-acclaimed film Judas and the Black Messiah. This was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award, and Critics Choice Awards. She will make her acting debut in the Warner Bros. adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Color Purple.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – 30 YEARS
“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. 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.