The Little Mermaid’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Shares Why He’s Not Giving ‘Oxygen’ To The Racist Comments About Halle Bailey’s Ariel

Lin-Manuel Miranda flying a kite in Mary Poppins Returns
(Image credit: Disney)

While some may still know him as the brain behind the Broadway hit Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda has established himself quite useful at Disney in recent years. Along with starring opposite Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns, he worked behind the scenes on Moana and Encanto, and he’s also involved in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The upcoming Disney movie has been catching attention recently for racist comments directed at Halle Bailey’s Ariel, prompting Miranda to share why he’s not giving any “oxygen” to these words.

Halle Bailey was announced to be playing Ariel back in July 2019, but her casting has gained renewed attention following the release of the first Little Mermaid trailer, which saw the grown-ish actress belting out “Part of Your World.” Various people on the internet have taken issue with a Black actress being cast as a character who was originally depicted as white, to the point that the #NotMyAriel hashtag was created. Lin-Manuel Miranda put those haters on blast while speaking at the L’Attitude conference in San Diego (via Variety), saying:

I’m not interested in giving them any oxygen because I know the lives that are going to be changed. Halle is perfect for the part. She is going to blow them away. If that’s the thing that makes you mad, then stay mad. But examine your choices.

Prior to saying the above statement, Lin-Manuel Miranda advised the people who don’t like that Halle Bailey is playing Ariel simply because she’s Black to watch the 1997 TV movie Cinderella, which not only starred Brandy as the title protagonist, but boasted a racially diverse cast also including Whitney Houston, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber. among others. Miranda said he’s “old enough to remember that being a game changer” for his generation, so for him, Bailey leading The Little Mermaid is more of a good thing when it comes to opening up acting opportunities to all sorts of people, regardless of the color of their skin.

Beyond that, since Lin-Manuel Miranda has been part of the creative process on The Little Mermaid, he’s seen footage of Halle Bailey playing Ariel and is confident that she’s going to impress the general public with her performance. Miranda isn’t the only celebrity to offer supporting words for Halle Bailey in the wake of these racist comments. Snow White lead Rachel Zegler didn’t hesitate to defend her fellow Disney Princess, and Splash’s Darryl Hannah also hit back against the detractors. On a more positive note, there have been a lot of videos posted online of young Black girls joyfully reacting to the Little Mermaid trailer, which left Bailey “truly in awe” and made her “so emotional.”

The Little Mermaid’s cast also includes Jonah Hauer-King as Eric, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder and Awkwafina as Scuttle. Lin-Manuel Miranda teamed with composer Alan Menken, who worked on the animated version of The Little Mermaid, to write new songs for the remake. You can see how this 2023 movie came together when it opens on May 26, 2023.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.