H.E.R. officially wants you to call her by her name. The singer, who was born Gabriella Wilson, appeared on Good Morning America Wednesday (Dec. 7) to discuss how it feels to be starring as Belle in ABC’s Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration, and why the project has since led her to go by her birth name.
Host Michael Strahan introduced the singer, kicking off the interview by using her legal name, and inquired about her decision to go by that.
“I’ve been re-finding my voice. Now I’m not wearing glasses. I can’t be acting and wearing glasses, so I think it’s time for people to really get to know the person behind H.E.R.,” the singer explained. “H.E.R. is me, but at the same time it’s a new chapter of my life, and I think I’m really finding that connection and I’m allowing people to see under the layers a little bit.”
The conversation then pivoted to the Oscar winner and five-time Grammy winner being the first Black and Filipina woman to take on the part of Belle.
“I never thought I could be a Disney princess,” she said of the project, which airs on ABC Dec. 15. “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.”
“And that’s such a huge deal on top of being a producer on Beauty and the Beast, which is crazy,” she continued. “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.”
H.E.R. will be one of several high-profile stars appearing in the project. Josh Groban will play the Beast, while Shania Twain (Mrs. Potts), Martin Short (Lumiere), Joshua Henry (Gaston), David Alan Grier (Cogsworth) and Rita Moreno (narration) will round out the cast.
Watch the interview in the above video.