The Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey has addressed the backlash against her playing the new Ariel, after Disney dropped the trailer for the live-action remake.
The 22-year-old, best known as one half of Chloe x Halle, stars as the iconic mermaid and fans have been gushing over her version of Part Of Your World, teased in the trailer, which was originally sung by Jodi Benson (who is a fan of Halle’s casting, by the way).
Emotional videos of Black children, particularly young girls, watching the trailer for the first time have had us all in bits, but the upcoming film has also been the subject of a lot of racism.
After trolls took aim at the fact that Halle isn’t Caucasian (but not apparently with the fact that she isn’t actually a mermaid either), YouTube actually disabled the dislike counter on the trailer.
But now, Halle has addressed the backlash in a video on her YouTube channel.
‘I dedicated so much time, blood, sweat and tears into this work for this film and in the process I learned so much about myself,’ Halle began.
Halle Bailey is set to become the hero of many young Black girls around the world (Picture: Getty Images/Corey Nickols)
‘I remember at the very, very beginning of filming I was way more timid than I was coming out of it so I kind of felt like I grew with Ariel’s character in a way and that makes me really happy so yeah I think that was kind of the biggest takeaway for me is just to believe in myself and know that I’m worthy.’
‘And even still today like with all of the commentary and people’s opinions going on, it just reminds me to be number one grounded and grateful that I have this opportunity and the fact that it’s sparking such a discussion for all of us,’ she continued.
‘I mean, I know what it would’ve meant to me as a little girl to have been able to see a Black Ariel.
Ariel will be played by a Black actress on-screen for the first time (Picture: Rex Features)
‘When I was younger, if I would’ve seen that, it would have changed my whole outlook on life so the fact that I’m kind of getting to do that is really cool and unbelievable to me and the little girl inside of me is screaming and freaking out.’
Director Rob Marshall recently opened up about why he cast Halle, explaining to Variety: ‘We saw everybody and I will say that Halle was the first person we saw.
‘I had seen her [at] the Grammys and I asked if she could come in to see if she could do this, and I remember at the end of her singing this song, Part Of Your World, that we just hear her singing today, I was in tears.
The Little Mermaid was released in 1989 and little has changed in representation with Disney’s princesses since (Picture: Rex Features)
‘And I thought, “Oh my god, she’s so deep and so emotional and so beautiful.” She set the bar very high and no one ever crossed that bar but her.’
Halle became the target of racist abuse online after the announcement of her casting in 2019.
Jodi threw her support behind Halle at the time, saying the actress captures the ‘spirit’ of Ariel.
The original voice of Ariel, Jodi, has praised Halle for her performance in the film (Picture: The Walt Disney Company via Getty Images)
‘I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters,’ Jodi said at Florida Supercon.
‘And the outside package – cause let’s face it, I’m really, really old – and so when I’m singing Part of Your World, if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song.
‘But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel,’ she said. ‘We need to be storytellers.’
The Little Mermaid is set for release on May 26, 2023.
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