We’ve officially gotten the first casting announcement for ABC’s Beauty and the Beast special, Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration. Singer-songwriter H.E.R. will portray Belle in this unique presentation of the classic film, combining her live performance with that of Paige O’Hara as the original animated character. Read a statement from H.E.R here:
“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.”
And producer Jon M. Chu:
“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. 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.”
I’m not familiar with H.E.R.’s music, but I’m heartened to see a singer cast as Belle. Emma Watson is many things, but she was never cut out for this part. It’s easy to take Paige O’Hara’s performance for granted, but she packs the role with character and powerful emotion. Emma Watson is no singer, and her chemistry with Dan Stevens’ Beast is nonexistent.
I can already see people rushing to politicize this or say they’re race-baiting, but I’m not interested in that. I’m looking forward to this show, and I really hope they do justice to the classic movie. I was pleased with the Little Mermaid live show, and it’s not a foregone conclusion that this won’t be good. I’m glad to hear such passion from Chu and H.E.R. regarding the original movie.