Stephanie Mills Recalls Experience With Racism In Support Of 'The Little Mermaid' Star Halle Bailey

Stephanie Mills Recalls Experience With Racism In Support Of 'Little Mermaid' Star Halle Bailey

Home / Stars / Stephanie Mills Recalls Experience With Racism In Support Of 'Little Mermaid' Star Halle Bailey

By Afouda Bamidele on May 31, 2023 at 5:00 PM EDT

Stephanie Mills has publicly shown her support for Halle Bailey.

The older actress shared an open letter with the 23-year-old amid the racist backlash she has received for appearing as the lead in "The Little Mermaid." In case you missed it, Mills suffered the same fate when she played Dorothy in the Broadway production of "The Wizard of Oz" titled "The Wiz" in 1975.

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Stephanie Mills Roots For Halle Bailey In An Open Letter Posted To Social Media

Since news broke that Bailey would play the role of Ariel in the 2023 live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid," critics have targeted her with offensive statements about her race. To that end, Mills took to Facebook to pen a sincere letter to the Chloe x Halle group member, acknowledging what the singer is going through.

She revealed that she got "so much hate mail" and was told that Judy Garland — the actress who played Dorothy in the 1939 film — would be "turning in her grave" at the thought of a black 17-year-old girl taking on her signature role. Addressing the racist criticisms levied against the "Cool People" singer, the 66-year-old actress wrote:

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"It's sad to see the same thing is happening to this beautiful, talented, smart and intelligent actress. Halle, God put you in this place and time ... So let your light shine. Hold your head up high, walk in your peace, and celebrate the greatness that you are."

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The "I Feel Good All Over" songstress then stated that critics believed she "would never make it on Broadway" and went as far as telling her that she "couldn't sing" and "was [too] dark." After pointing out that she had "watched and listened" as "they" tried to tell Bailey why she "shouldn't and couldn't," Mills wrapped up:

"I am so proud of you and how you handled all the naysayers. We have never met, however I have been in your shoes. Baby girl, let them know that this #LittleMermaid is made of teflon."

The American Music Awards recipient's letter of solidarity was reshared via her Twitter, and it immediately became a talking point for her fans. "Made of Teflon. Miss Stephanie, you are their most real, and I hope Halle goes on to have half your career. Class act?," one fan replied.

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A second netizen tweeted, "An empowered woman empowering another woman. Now that black excellence, us supporting us & I love that for us✊?❤️? #BlackGirlMagic ??." A third person gushed, "Two legends…. y'all don't get it!! ??," and a fourth applauded, "The world has a vicious cycle, but it is good that the elders who have been through it can reach back out and help. ????.”

Mills' letter comes on the heels of "The Little Mermaid" director Rob Marshall opening up the online remarks made when Bailey first landed the role in 2019. He admitted his surprise at people still seeing the world in such "an archaic way," adding:

"When that controversy arose from narrow-minded people, I thought, 'Wow, that really feels like it's coming from another century. Are we really still there?'"

Halle Bailey at The Little Mermaid UK Premiere. Odeon Luxe, Leicester Square
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Despite that, Marshall was focused on one of the highest points of casting the "Ungodly Hour" hitmaker: little children could now relate better to the story since it had somebody who looked just like them.

'The Little Mermaid' Swam To A $118M Memorial Day Debut At The Box Office

Following the May 26 premiere of the Disney film, Variety has reported that it is set to bring in a whopping $118 million over its four-day debut, with $96 million of that stemming from its first three days. With that number, the project now ranks Hollywood's fifth-highest Memorial Day opening.

It is worth noting that the film's viewership was boosted by many people who first connected with Ariel during her initial appearance on the big screens in the late '80s and generations of fans who were not born yet when the original was released. 

Although the latter learned about the dynamic character through her appearances on television, DVD, and streaming platforms, they were still psyched to watch the film on the big screens.

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In the United States alone, 68% of the audience was female, with 25% of ticket buyers ranging between 25 to 34 years and 22% of kids accounting for the massive opening weekend crowds. On the international scene, the film pulled in $68.3 million from 51 material markets.

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