Halle Bailey says she was ‘shocked’ at racist response 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 cropped up in response to a black woman’s casting in a role that was previously assumed to be for a white woman
- The star said she chooses to focus on the positive reactions of little black and brown girls to seeing someone like them portray Ariel
The actress portraying Ariel in Disney’s forthcoming live action Little Mermaid film, said she was shocked to see the slew of hateful comments over her casting.
But Halle Bailey said it was heartwarming to see how young fans reacted to a black woman portraying a Disney princess.
The 22-year-old starlet has faced some backlash since it was announced she would play the iconic character.
‘Seeing the world’s reaction to it was definitely a shock,’ Bailey told Edition magazine.
‘But seeing all the babies’ reactions, all the brown and black young girls, really tore me up emotionally,’ she added.
Actress and singer Halle Bailey, 22, was cast as Ariel in Disney’s live action Little Mermaid in 2019
The hateful comments first started when Bailey announced her casting in 2019 and have rolled through to the release of the official trailer this month.
Some of the comments have included the hashtag ‘#NotMyAriel,’ referencing the whiteness of the original Ariel.
‘If Disney wants more diversity, they should have create another character … Before respecting all the other ethnicities and cultures shouldn’t they at least be respectful to the origin ??? #notmyariel,’ wrote one user.
Another called the film a ‘waste of money’ and said that ‘race swapping is not okay.’
One 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.
Although the Twitter account was ultimately suspended, a different user shared a picture of the altered trailer and wrote: ‘He (the original poster) fixed The Little Mermaid and turned the woke actor into a ginger white girl. He says he can fix the whole movie when it comes out with 4x A6000 in 24 hours.’
‘It’s over for wokecels,’ he added.
While many were supportive, some objected to the casting of a black woman in a role that had previously been portrayed as a white woman
One AI scientist even altered the trailer to swap Halle Bailey out for a white woman
Others objected to the cross-race casting of a traditionally white character
Bailey said despite the hate she chose to pivot her focus to some of the more heartening responses to her casting.
Amid the backlash, she saw videos circulating of young black children reacting excitedly to her first appearance as Ariel.
The actress shared a video compilation of little girls smiling and rejoicing 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 these reactions to me all weekend and I’m truly in awe this means the world to me.’
Bailey said it was heartwarming to see how young fans reacted to a black woman portraying a Disney princess.
She said she chose to pay attention to the sweet reactions of young black and brown girls online who smiled in amazement when they saw a brown Ariel
Among those who are pleased with Bailey’s casting is the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson.
Benson publicly applauded Disney for casting the black singer in the live-action version of the story, saying that the ‘most important thing is to tell the story.’
‘We need to be storytellers. 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 said.
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