In 2019, the Walt Disney Company announced that actress Halle Bailey, who is known for her work in ABC’s “Grown-ish” and as one half of the popular R&B singing duo Chloe and Halle, would portray the iconic Disney Princess, Ariel, in the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.”
Although, not long after the announcement, Disney fans took to social media to express their frustrations about the casting of the Disney Princess and the hashtag #NotMyAriel immediately began to trend.
The backlash continues even years after the announcement as a new trailer for the upcoming live-action film was just released. Now, Bailey is addressing the backlash once again.
Hallie Bailey Admits She ‘Expected’ The Backlash
Disney dropped another trailer for its upcoming live-action film last week, which sparked more backlash from racist fans, attacking Disney and Halle Bailey.
“The live-action should reproduce the anime to the maximum extent to show their respect. Halle is a perfect singer but not a suitable actress for Ariel. Ariel’s skin is white, her hair is red and her eyes are blue and these can not be changed.#NotMyAriel,” one fan Tweeted using the #NotMyAriel hashtag.
As another wrote, “I do not care what anyone says, I’m not watching the little mermaid (not even when it becomes available on @DisneyPlus @DisneyStudios you only had one job, and you’ve fu*ked up big time. It wasn’t a singing competition. #NotMyAriel.”
These are just two of the thousands of Tweets received from fans, some of which are extremely worse and racist. Halle Bailey admits to being aware of the racist backlash, though she admits she expected it.
“As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore,” Bailey told The Face in a new interview. ”When [Chlöe and I] first signed to Parkwood, [Beyoncé] was always like: ’I never read my comments. Don’t ever read the comments.’ Honestly, when the teaser came out, I was at the D23 Expo and I was so happy. I didn’t see any of the negativity.”
She added, “I know people are like: ’It’s not about race.’ But now that I’m her…People don’t understand that when you’re Black there’s this whole other community. It’s so important for us to see ourselves.”
Director Rob Marshall Speaks Out
“The Little Mermaid” director Rob Marshall recently spoke out on the decision to cast Halle Bailey as Ariel, saying he had “no agenda” as he and his team were just looking for the “best actor for the role, period.” He even went on to say they had auditions from “every ethnicity” throughout the process before they decided to give Bailey the job as the lead.
“We just were looking for the best actor for the role, period. The end,” Marshall told Entertainment Weekly. “We saw everybody and every ethnicity. [The goal was to find someone who can be] incredibly strong, passionate, beautiful, smart, clever [and with] a great deal of fire and joy.”
When speaking about the decision to cast Halle Bailey, her voice was at the top. “That voice is something that is so signature and so ethereal and so beautiful that it captures the heart of Eric and he looks for her for the entire film,” Marshall continued to explain.
‘The Little Mermaid’
The upcoming live-action film will star Halle Bailey as Ariel, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and Jacob Tremblay as Flounder.
Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid” hits theaters on May 26, 2023.