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When Disney cast actress Halle Bailey (NOT Berry) as Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, the internet almost exploded with discourse, disappointment, and, in some cases, outright disdain. But Diana Huey, the theater actress who was the first non-white performer to play Ariel on a major stage, offered up some insights to the young star. Unfortunately, Huey couldn't impart the same advice to the new Scuttle and Flounder.
Japanese-American actress Diana Huey imparted a number of pieces of advice to the new Ariel, one of them being:
Keep your head up and know that it’s so much bigger than you as a single person fighting these battles. If she can stay positive and just remember, there’s more support than there is hatred. It’s an important battle to fight and she’s not alone.
Diana Huey continued her interview with TheWrap by relating her own experience with fans and remembering how positively they responded to her role. Here's what she said:
I never had one kid in 300-something shows over the course of a year say, ‘Oh, you don’t look like Ariel.’ They would see me come out of the stage door with my hair and street clothes and throw themselves at me screaming. ‘Ariel!’ when I looked like Diana. The kids were totally on board. So if we just keep doing this, that’s the good work we need to do to make the world just a more opened-minded place.
It was important to Diana Huey that Halle Bailey knew how essential Ariel's story is for people trying to find themselves. She shared even more advice on Instagram after Bailey's casting.
Halle Bailey has acted before, but never in a film this high-profile. Diana Huey offered up what may be the best, most comforting piece of advice she could possibly give. Of Ariel's journey, she said to TheWrap:
It’s a story about a character who wants to find where she belongs and fit in and why she doesn’t feel comfortable where she is… that’s everyone’s story. It’s a great way to tell a fairly simple story and make a bigger statement, and now we’re having a bigger conversation, and why not? And she’s a mermaid, she’s half fish!
She makes some good points!
The animated version of The Little Mermaid was released in November 1989 and was mostly well-received. The film centered around the mermaid princess Ariel, who falls head over tail for the dashing Prince Eric. Plotting against Ariel is the diabolical sea witch/ fat octopus Ursula (possibly portrayed by Melissa McCarthy in the remake), who eventually gains control of King Triton's trident and becomes an even bigger obese octopus. Regardless of the villain's unflattering appearance, singer Lizzo would love to play her.
The Little Mermaid remake will be directed by Rob Marshall. No release date has been set yet. In the meantime, check out what Halle Bailey could look like as Ariel.