On Thursday, December 15 at 8 pm ET, Disney fans can celebrate one of the company’s most beloved classics with ABC’s Beauty And The Beast: A 30th Celebration special. And according to Billboard, the special has already cast its Belle: Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter/musician and burgeoning actress HER. The special will be directed by veteran TV special director Hamish Hamilton, who’s led award shows like the Emmys, the Grammys, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, and a few Super Bowl Halftime Shows, and produced by John M. Chu, who’s best known for the film versions of Crazy Rich Asians and In The Heights.
In a statement, HER expressed her excitement, saying, “I can’t believe I get to be part of the Beauty and the Beast legacy. 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.”
To be honest, it’s kind of cool that Disney has been tapping into the world of R&B for actresses to play classic roles — like Beyonce as Nala in The Lion King and Halley Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. It feels a little like a nod to Brandy’s Cinderella from the ’90s, and it’s nice to think of so many little girls getting the same feeling of seeing themselves in the character that they did back then.
The show will be a blend of animation and live action, with musical performances paying homage to the original 1991 animated film. It’ll be taped live with a studio audience and streamed the next day on Disney+.