Beauty And The Beast’s H.E.R. Discusses ABC’s Live-Action Musical: ‘The World Has Never Seen A Black Or Filipino Belle’

H.E.R. on Apple Music
(Image credit: Apple Music)

Grammy-winner H.E.R. has been making strides in Hollywood to expand her thriving career into acting. Being cast as Belle in ABC’s live-action Beauty and the Beast showed she was ready to take the next step. Of course, the television role leans into her background as a musician. Not only will her musical pedigree be on display but her culture might be a factor as well. The Beauty and the Beast actress discussed playing a Black and Filipino Belle in the ABC live-action musical.

Taking part in the live televised musical seems like a labor of love for the recording star. The Oscar-winner spoke with ET about what she’s doing to prepare for the live Beauty and the Beast

Oh my gosh, I'm so excited! I've been in the studio, playing with the arrangements, of course staying true to the original but giving it a new fresh twist. It's gonna be like H.E.R. but also Belle, you know? And I'm really excited.

Merging her musical stylings with the traditional Broadway-style Disney musical could be an interesting match. Updating the sound without subverting the beloved compositions will be nice to hear and see on TV. Knowing she’s so hands-on with the production shows how committed she is to making the best live production.

Her casting marked a shift in Belle’s appearance just like Halle Bailey’s Little Mermaid casting. H.E.R. will be the first Black and Filipino woman to play the iconic character. The musician spoke about how her mixed heritage will influence her portrayal:

I think the world has never seen a Black and Filipino Belle and there's a strength in Belle that I think we forget about sometimes, and I think people are gonna see that, musically, and just in the way that she is.

Bringing her cultural heritage to the classic Disney film will be a refresh on the beloved Disney princess. She’ll represent a group never highlighted before in a Disney production. It makes you wonder what instruments and production she will bring to the televised musical. H.E.R. will follow in the footsteps of fellow Grammy-winner Toni Braxton, who played the strong young woman on Broadway in the 1990s.

Pulling out Belle’s strength through music and words will be an homage to the well-read young woman from the 1991 animated film. Fans got to see the character’s independence and determination via Emma Watson in the 2017 live-action film. So, it’ll be interesting to see the televised musical tap more into that side.

Along with starring in the televised live-action musical, the Grammy- and Oscar-winning musician is set to make her big-screen debut as part of The Color Purple cast. She’ll star as Harpo’s second wife Squeak alongside Halle Bailey and American Idol alum Fantasia Barrino. She previously played herself in the Netflix family comedy Yes Day. Maybe starring in both productions will jumpstart the singer-songwriter’s acting career.

Of course, working in film and television is nothing new to the R&B singer. Her credits have mostly come from her music contributions to projects like Netflix’s We the People and the Oscar-nominated film Judas and the Black Messiah. The latter scored the Oscar for Best Original Song for her song “Fight for You.”

H.E.R. won’t be the only musician on the live televised musical, as Josh Groban will play the Beast and country music icon Shania Twain is in talks to play Mrs. Potts. Beauty and the Beast will premiere on ABC on December 15. In the meantime, check out what upcoming TV premieres are happening this Fall.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).