O'Hara was critically-acclaimed for both her speaking and singing voices in the film and also for the unique tone that she brought to Belle (said to be of a Judy Garland-like quality), which captured her personality. According to Beauty and the Beast filmmakers, O'Hara's voice had a similar tone to that of Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland, which partially won her the role.
O'Hara reprised her role as Belle in most of the character's subsequent appearances. However, she was substituted by Lynsey McLeod in the live-action television spin-off Sing Me a Story with Belle. O'Hara and McLeod do, however, co-star in the Beauty and the Beast direct-to-video midquel Belle's Tales of Friendship, with O'Hara voicing the animated version of the character and McLeod portraying the live-action version. O'Hara also reprises her role in the midquels The Enchanted Christmas and Belle's Magical World. She played character as she sung the song Belle at the 1992 Academy Awards.
As of 2011, she was replaced as the voice of Belle, due to her voice changing significantly over the course of twenty years, though she still paints Belle for Disney Fine Art. She also continues to do promotional appearances for Disney.  Julie Nathanson has since assumed the role of Belle, beginning with Kinect Disneyland Adventures.
In 2015, O'Hara also offered to help actress Emma Watson with her singing lessons for her role as Belle in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. The following year, O'Hara appeared at numerous special screenings of Beauty and the Beast in honor of the film's 25th anniversary. O'Hara reprised the role of Belle in Ralph Breaks the Internet.