Right before the Fourth of July, Disney announced the casting of Ariel in their upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The extensive search process ended with Halle Bailey (not Halle Berry), one of the Grown-ish stars and half of the Chloe x Halle R&B duo. At the time, Disney issued a statement that praised Bailey’s “rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance,” but with the Internet being the Internet, some very vocal voices launched a #NotMyAriel hashtag over the casting of a black actress. This, of course, happened despite the fact that Ariel is not only a fictional mermaid but one created by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Disney’s Freeform cable network issued another statement to both effects, noting that “Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black.”
Well, Will Smith’s blue genie in Aladdin drew plenty of attention, but the Ariel-based backlash is a whole other ballgame. Bailey remained silent on the matter for a month, but while speaking with Variety, it’s clear that she’s staying positive:
“I feel like I’m dreaming and I’m just grateful and I don’t pay attention to the negativity. I just feel like this role was something bigger than me and greater and it’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”
It’s also notable that Alyssa Milano, who previously revealed that the animated version of Ariel was based upon how she looked during childhood, has lauded Bailey as “a brilliant choice” to play the live-action character.
Halle Bailey is a brilliant choice to play Ariel. I can’t wait for this. 😍 https://t.co/vjGRX6kUIa
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) July 4, 2019
Currently, Bailey remains the only confirmed cast member for the remake, although word on the street is that Javier Bardem is circling a role. In addition, Harry Styles is reportedly in contention for the Prince Eric role with Melissa McCarthy up for Ursula, along with Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina reportedly being in talks to take on the Flounder and Scuttle roles, respectively, for the remake that doesn’t yet hold a release date.