Halle Bailey Addresses Backlash After Being Cast In 'The Little Mermaid'

By Emily Lee

August 7, 2019

After Disney announced Halley Bailey would be playing Ariel in the upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, racist trolls came out in droves to criticize the decision to cast a black actress in the role. The backlash spawned the hateful hashtag #NotMyAriel, which was called out by a number or prominent people in the entertainment industry, including the original Ariel Jodi Benson, Freeform, and Donald Glover. Though she'd remained silent throughout the worst of the trolling, Bailey finally opened up about the backlash while attending Variety's 2019 Power of Young Hollywood event.

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Bailey told Variety. “And I’m just grateful. I don’t pay attention to the negativity; I just feel like this role is something bigger than me. And it’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”

Halle's sentiments echo those of Glover, who urged the young actress to ignore the negativity and enjoy her special moment. "I thought that was so special," the actor told E! News of Bailey's casting. "We were just watching that film and I'm like, that's such a great story but I'm just like, I dunno, I just hope that she's like having fun and don't let anybody make you feel the opposite of how you want to feel. It's a very special role and you earned it, so I hope you're listening."

Bailey has the full support of actress Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the original animated film, as well. "I think the most important thing is to tell the story," the star said at Florida Supercon in July. "We have, as a family, raised our children and for ourselves that we don’t see anything that’s different on the outside. I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart and their spirit is what really counts. Let's face it, I'm really, really old and when I'm singing 'Part of Your World,' if you were to judge me by the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way you interpret the song, but if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel."

"And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story," she continued. "That's what we want to do. We want to make the connection with the audience."

Are you excited for the upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid?

Photo: Getty

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