In June 2019, Disney announced that they would make a new live-action version of the Little Mermaid, which will star singer and actress Halle Bailey. The first trailer was released in September and it faced both racist backlash as well as praise for the representation in the movie. The movie is scheduled to release in theaters in May of 2023.
When it was announced that Halle Bailey would be starring in the movie as Princess Ariel, many people criticized the casting of a non-white actress in this role. The trailer on YouTube had around 1.5 million dislikes from enraged viewers and many trolls of the movie using the hashtag #NotMyAriel. The race of the mermaid should not be an issue to the public, because changing the race of a mermaid does not change the fact that mermaids do not actually exist.
Halle Bailey, who is best known as a grammy-nominated singer in the duo Chloe x Halle, was thrilled to be cast as Ariel because she grew up obsessed with the original Little Mermaid. Halle always related with Ariel, saying “Her sense of longing, her searching for herself, was something that I could always resonate with. She knew where she wanted to go, and she wasn’t going to let anybody stop her.”
Bailey understands how ground-breaking her role is, being only the second Black actress to be a Disney princess, the other is actress Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog.” Bailey will be the first live-action Black Disney princess, and unlike Rose, she will not be a frog for the majority of the movie.
“I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special and that they should be a princess in every single way. There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be,” Bailey said in an interview with Variety. Many parents have been sharing wholesome reactions to their children watching the trailer and realizing that Ariel is black. This movie is an important step forward for representation in movies and will inspire young black girls when they see someone on screen who looks like them. Although this movie has already received some negative responses, the positive responses outweigh the negative because of how inspired many Black kids will be when they see somebody who looks like them in theaters.