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The Beauty And The Beast Anniversary Special Has Cast The Perfect Belle

The 1991 animated film "Beauty and the Beast" is undeniably a beloved Disney classic. The film, about a spellbinding young woman who falls in love with a prince who has been cursed to live as a beast, was critically acclaimed at the time of its release, even earning itself six Academy Award nominations, including for best picture and three for best original song (it won two of the six nods).

Now, over 30 years after the release of the film, ABC is broadcasting a hybrid live-action animated special to commemorate the anniversary, as was first announced earlier this month (via Variety). The special will be two hours long and features never-before-seen footage and new performances in front of a live audience (although the special will not be aired live). There will also be new sets and costumes in the style of the animated film. 

With the news of the anniversary special, fans of the musical likely have one pressing question on their minds: Who will be playing Belle? Well, the anniversary special has just announced its Belle and the choice is perfect.

H.E.R. will be playing Belle

As reported by Variety, Grammy-winning singer and musician H.E.R. will be playing Belle for the "Beauty and the Beast" anniversary special. While H.E.R. is the only cast member to be announced thus far, we do know that Hamish Hamilton, who has directed a slew of award shows and other stage events over the years, will be helming the project. Meanwhile, Jon M. Chu (upcoming director of the already divisive "Wicked" movie adaptation) is executive producing.

Reacting to the announcement, H.E.R. put out a statement that reads, "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! 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." 

Alongside her five Grammy wins, H.E.R. also became an Academy Award winner in 2021 for her original song "Fight For You" from "Judas and the Black Messiah." The singer is also set to make her big screen acting debut in Blitz Bazawule's upcoming adaptation of the musical version of "The Color Purple" (via IMDb).

The "Beauty and the Beast" anniversary special will premiere on ABC on Dec. 15 and will be available to stream the next day on Disney+.