ABC’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Special Casts H.E.R. as Belle

The Beauty and the Beast 30th anniversary special at ABC has found its Belle.

Grammy winner H.E.R. will play the character in the special, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the 1991 animated film’s historic Oscar nomination for best picture — the first animated feature to earn such recognition. The movie won two Academy Awards for its original score and title song.

Jon M. Chu (In the Heights) is executive producing the special, which Hamish Hamilton will direct.

“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 a statement. “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.”

As The Hollywood Reporter revealed earlier this month, the BATB special will feature a mix of live-action and animation and new musical performances, sets and costumes inspired by the film. It will pay homage to the movie while also adding to its story. The special will be taped in front of a live audience and air on Dec. 15.

“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.”

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H.E.R. has won four Grammy Awards, including best R&B album in 2019 for her self-titled release and song of the year in 2021 for “I Can’t Breathe.” She also won an Oscar for the song “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah. She’ll make her feature film debut next year in The Color Purple, based on the musical adapted from Alice Walker’s novel.

Done+Dusted is producing the Beauty and the Beast special in association with Walt Disney Television Alternative and Electric Somewhere. Chu and Hamilton executive produce with Caitlin Foito, Raj Kapoor, Richard Kraft and Katy Mullan. H.E.R. will have a producer credit.