Halle Bailey says she was ‘shocked’ by the racist backlash to her casting as the Little Mermaid – but was heartened by videos of little girls discovering Ariel is ‘brown like me’
- The 22-year-old actress and singer was cast as Ariel in Disney’s live action Little Mermaid in 2019
- Sporadic online backlash has surfaced in response to the casting of a black woman in a role previously believed to be for a white woman
- The star said she chooses to focus on the positive reactions of little black and brown girls to see someone like her portray Ariel
The actress who plays Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action Little Mermaid movie said she was shocked by the many snide comments about her casting.
But Halle Bailey said it was heartening to see young fans react to a black woman portraying a Disney princess.
The 22-year-old starlet has faced some backlash since she was announced to be playing the iconic character.
“It was definitely a shock to see the world’s reaction to it,” Bailey told Edition magazine.
“But seeing all the babies’ reactions, all the brown and black young girls really broke me emotionally,” she added.
Actress and singer Halle Bailey, 22, was cast as Ariel in Disney’s live action Little Mermaid in 2019
The snide comments first started when Bailey announced her casting in 2019 and have rolled over to the release of the official trailer this month.
Some of the comments include the hashtag “#NotMyAriel,” referring to the whiteness of the original Ariel.
“If Disney wants more diversity, they should have created another character… Before they respect all other ethnicities and cultures, shouldn’t they at least respect origins??? #notmyariel,” one user wrote.
Another called the film a “waste of money” and said “race swaps are not okay.”
An artificial intelligence scientist went so far as to edit the Disney trailer to replace Bailey with a white woman with red hair – to match the original animated character.
Though the Twitter account was eventually suspended, another user shared a photo of the modified trailer, writing, “He (the original poster) fixed The Little Mermaid and turned the awake actor into a ginger-white girl. He says he can do the whole movie if he comes out with 4x A6000 in 24 hours.’
“It’s over for wakecels,” he added.
While many were in favour, some objected to the casting of a black woman in a role that had previously been portrayed as a white woman.
An AI scientist even changed the trailer to swap Halle Bailey for a white woman
Others objected to the cross-race casting of a traditionally white character
Despite the hate, Bailey said she chose to shift her focus to some of the more encouraging reactions to her casting.
Amid the backlash, she saw videos circulating of young black children reacting with excitement to her first performance as Ariel.
The actress shared a video compilation of little girls who smile and rejoice when they discover that the new Ariel is “brown like me.”
In September, when the movie’s teaser trailer was released, Bailey wrote on Twitter alongside a video compilation, “People have been sending me these comments all weekend and I’m really in awe that it means everything to me.”
Bailey said it was heartening to see young fans react to a black woman portraying a Disney princess.
She said she chose to pay attention to the sweet comments of young black and brown girls online who smiled in surprise when they saw a brown Ariel
Among those pleased with Bailey’s casting is Ariel’s original voice, Jodi Benson.
Benson publicly applauded Disney for casting the black singer in the live-action version of the story, saying the “most important thing is to tell the story.”
“We have to be storytellers. And regardless of what we look like on the outside, regardless of our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I am tall or thin, whether I am overweight or underweight, whether my hair is any color, we really need to tell the story,” she said.