Halle Bailey’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ Doesn’t Limit Ariel To Leaving The Ocean For A Boy, She Explained

Halle Bailey has a monster year in store. Her leading turn as Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid live remake is out in May, but her Ariel doll is already in demand. Bailey is also set to star as Nettie in The Color Purple in December, and she talked about the weight of both roles as the cover star of Edition Modern Luxury‘s March issue.

In the accompanying cover story, Bailey explained how 2023’s The Little Mermaid left behind the original version’s shades of sexism: “I’m really excited for my version of the film because we’ve definitely changed that perspective of just her wanting to leave the ocean for a boy. It’s way bigger than that. It’s about herself, her purpose, her freedom, her life, and what she wants.”

She continued, “As women, we are amazing, we are independent, we are modern, we are everything and above. And I’m glad that Disney is updating some of those themes.”

Bailey has transparently talked about the horrifically racist backlash she’s been subjected to since her casting in 2019. She did so again with Edition: “Seeing the world’s reaction to it was definitely a shock, but seeing all the babies’ reactions, all the brown and Black young girls, really tore me up emotionally. … It’s honestly been such a crazy ride, and I genuinely feel shocked and honored and grateful to be in this position. A lot of times, I have to pinch myself and be like, is this real life?”

And Bailey couldn’t talk about her involvement in The Color Purple without loving on her sister, Chlöe (who is at the tip of the internet’s tongue with the release of Swarm and her impending release of her debut solo album, In Pieces).

“My sister Chlöe, she’s my angel, she’s my world. She’s my hero, my big sister, she’s my inspiration,” she said. “So taking on this role, I was really excited to do it because I got to play the little sister and build off this relationship of two people loving each other.”

The Little Mermaid is out in theaters on May 26. Watch the official trailer below.