R&B sensation HER (real name Gabriella Wilson) is making history again. As the singer prepares for her musical special debut as part of Disney’s 30th celebration televised special of Beauty And The Beast, Wilson becomes the first Black and Filipina woman to play the role of Belle.
For clarity, singer Toni Braxton was the first Black woman to star as Belle on Broadway in 1998. But Wilson’s portrayal will mark the first time a woman of color has played the character on the small screen. During a stop at Good Morning America, the “Back Of My Mind” singer shared with host Michael Strahan what this opportunity means to her.
Wilson confessed, “I never thought I could be a Disney princess.” She later added, “Of course, every little girl wants to be a Disney princess, but I’ve never seen one that looks like me — so I get to be that to little girls now.”
When asked about her experience as Belle, Wilson replied, “Being a Disney princess is fun!”
Striving for the coveted EGOT status, Wilson could very well earn an Emmy as she also serves as a producer of the special. Wilson discussed the production side of the special, stating, “that’s such a huge deal on top of being a producer on Beauty And The Beast, which is crazy. I got to do a lot of the new arrangements and work with Alan Menken, the original arranger and producer. It’s been an amazing experience just learning so much about myself, and it’s been a lot of fun, honestly.”
Without giving too much away vocally, Wilson sang a teaser of the production’s opening number, “Belle,” and let’s say viewers are in for a treat.
Other notable names joining Wilson in the production include Shania Twain (in the role of Mrs. Potts), Josh Groban (in the role of Beast), Martin Short (in the role of candlestick Lumière), Joshua Henry (in the role of Gaston), and David Alan Grier (in the role of Cogsworth, the clock). Rita Moreno will narrate the special.
The Beauty And The Beast: A 30th Celebration television event will air on ABC on December 15 and on Disney+ the next day.
Watch the full interview above.