H.E.R. highlights Baybayin in 'Beauty and the Beast' special

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — Acclaimed R&B singer-songwriter H.E.R. made a heartwarming request to bring her Filipino heritage to the limelight in "Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration."

H.E.R., born Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, is starring as Belle in the highly-anticipated special.

The apron she wears in the opening scene bears a handpainted ancient Filipino script Baybayin which spells out "Bel."

Costume designer Marina Toybina, in an exclusive interview with Variety, revealed H.E.R. wanted to pay homage to her Filipino roots.

“One day, she called me and said, ‘I want to do something important to my [Filipino] culture.' In my sketch, we had the apron, and it was plain. Of course, I’m using the proper textile and cotton. She had the idea of doing something with a little ribbon, but I wanted to be bold," Toybina said.

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The costume designer said she had to learn Baybayin and tried to understand how important the script is to Filipino culture.

H.E.R., born and raised in the United States to a Filipino mother and an African-American father, is starring alongside Josh Groban in the two-hour special which mixes musical performances and animation and live-action sequences.

It will also feature other entertainment bigwigs, including Rita Moreno as the narrator. Jon M. Chu of "Crazy Rich Asians" is executive producing the special, with Hamish Hamilton set to direct.

The 30th anniversary special will air on American Broadcasting Company and stream on Disney+ this week.