Along with its pillars of Lucasfilm, Pixar and Marvel, Disney has found a great deal of success in recent years with live action remakes of the studio's animated classics. Beauty and the Beast dominated the box office last year, and both Aladdin and The Lion King hit next year. That leaves The Little Mermaid as the last film of the four that define the Disney Renaissance to get the live action treatment. The remake of the 1989 film is on the way, and although some behind the scenes talent has been attached, we're still waiting to see who gets cast as Ariel. Now a new rumor points to former Disney Channel star Zendaya as the frontrunner to play the Disney princess.
The rumor, reported by That Hashtag Show, is that Zendaya has been offered the starring role of Ariel in the film. This is 100% rumor at this point, and neither Disney nor Zendaya have announced anything through official channels. It is also worth noting that even if Disney does want Zendaya for the role and it has been offered, that doesn't mean that the actress will accept. However, if this rumored casting proves true, it would indicate that Disney is looking to add an actress of color in the lead role of the iconic Disney princess. This would also necessitate that King Triton be a person of color as well. Obviously this would be a departure from the Disney animated adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story, in which Ariel is white with bright red hair.
Zendaya has a long history with Disney, having starred in the Disney Channel series Shake It Up and K.C. Undercover. The actress and singer got to show off both of her talents with a role in last year's The Greatest Showman so she would be up to singing the iconic songs for The Little Mermaid. Ironically, if this casting rumor turns out to be true and Zendaya accepts, the role, this will be the second time she's played a character that is traditionally known for having bright red hair after playing MJ in _Spider-Man: Homecoming _(although that's still a little murky).
For now, we'll have to wait and see who gets cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Maybe it will be Zendaya, maybe it will be Lindsay Lohan (it won't). We do know that Chicago and Mary Poppins Returns helmer Rob Marshall is on board to direct, and that Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken, the latter of whom scored the 1989 film, will be working together on the music for this remake.
The Little Mermaid does not yet have a release date but you can check out all of the upcoming live-action Disney remakes (there are a lot of them) in our guide.