Halle Bailey as Ariel: “…she looks like me!”

By: Laila Johnson – 282

Recently, Halle Bailey made history as the first Black actress to portray a live-action Disney princess. Back in 2019, Disney announced that she would take on the role of Ariel in their remake of The Little Mermaid. Four years later, that announcement came to fruition. Last month, the first official teaser for the May 2023 movie took the world by storm with Halle’s angelic voice singing the iconic “Part of Your World” in a minute-long snippet. Young Black girls across America rejoiced, with videos trending on social media of them exclaiming “Mommy…she looks like me!” with beady eyes.

 However, that same teaser was met with criticism, receiving 1.5 million dislikes on YouTube before the feature was removed. Many countered, arguing that the 1989 Ariel’s iconic bright red hair was not well represented in the movie. Some even added that the remake should not deviate from Danish author, Hans Christien Anderson, and his supposed vision of Ariel as a “white mermaid.” 

Despite the backlash, Halle Bailey responded with gratitude, saying, “Today, with all of the kind of 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 like this for all of us.” Others, in her corner, highlight that the history of mermaid folklore has dated back thousands of years across all different regions of the world. With more controversy sure to follow when The Little Mermaid is released on May 26, 2023, Halle has the strong support of the thousands of Black girls across America she has already inspired. 

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