Halle Bailey is going to be the newest live-action Disney princess as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Though everything’s better under the sea, some audiences are making Bailey’s celebration a little complicated.
Actress and singer Bailey is mostly known for her musical duo with her sister, Chloe x Halle, and for her work on the Freeform television series, Grown-ish. When the live-action adaptation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, directed by Rob Marshall, was announced, there was a lot of speculation on who the leading roles would be. Jacob Trembley was announced for Flounder, and Awkwafina was cast as Scuttle. However, the key role in the film is Ariel, so audiences were anxiously waiting to see who would be cast.
After much speculation, Bailey was announced as the titular character. Though many fans were excited to see some diversity in a Disney film, other audiences were upset by the casting, claiming Bailey doesn’t “look enough like Ariel,” calling into question an issue of race.
With all the excitement comes those who are upset about Ariel being portrayed by a black woman. Some argue that people would be mad if The Princess and the Frog’s princess, Tiana, were to be portrayed by a white actress, and some are making that same argument for the role of Mulan in Mulan. However, fans of the casting are fighting back, arguing the point that Ariel’s race isn’t a key plot point in the film, whereas for other Disney princesses like Tiana and Mulan, it is.
Bailey’s role in The Little Mermaid is a point of diversity, especially for those who have spent years watching Disney movies and never seen anyone that has looked like them. Whether audiences are excited or not, Bailey’s casting is no doubt the first of many leaps into the long overdue diversification of Hollywood.
Here’s how audiences reacted on Twitter: