How The Little Mermaid's Halle Bailey Handled The Negativity Around Ariel

Halle Bailey in Grown-ish

The news earlier this summer that actress Halle Bailey had been cast as Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid was met with a fair amount of negativity. Some of that controversy stemmed from the fact that in Disney’s 1989 animated classic, Ariel is a fair-skinned redhead and Halle Bailey is African American. While that might get to some people, Halle Bailey handled the negativity around her casting as Ariel with aplomb by ignoring it, as she explained:

I feel like I’m dreaming, and I’m just grateful. I don't pay attention to the negativity; I just feel like this role is something bigger than me, and greater. And it’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.

Instead of engaging with the naysayers or allowing herself to become overwhelmed by the negativity from people who don’t want her as Ariel, Halle Bailey simply didn’t pay attention to any of it. You can’t please everyone, so it’s an incredibly wise approach for the 19-year-old actress to take. Listening to people say how much they don’t want you to have something that means so much to you is unhealthy and unnecessary.

Even though Halle Bailey (who's also been seen on Grown-ish and is part of Chloe x Halle) knows that there was backlash to her casting, it is clear that it couldn’t diminish her spirits or excitement about the role. And Halle Bailey’s excitement to play Ariel is palpable. As she told Variety, she feels like she’s dreaming and no amount of negativity and online backlash can wake her up. Playing Ariel obviously means a great deal to her and she seems to understand how much it means to other people as well.

Halle Bailey said that the role is bigger than her, indicating that she fully understands that this is a character who people love from a classic, beloved film, and playing Ariel isn’t just about her or what it means to her and her career. So she is thankful for the opportunity but realizes that there is a level of responsibility that comes with The Little Mermaid.

You can see Halle Bailey talking about her excitement in the video below.

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As anyone would be, Halle Bailey is over the moon to be a part of The Little Mermaid, and even if you had a different actress in mind or have a different image of Ariel in your head, you can still be happy for someone this clearly means a lot to. Of course Halle Bailey will still be facing plenty of negativity and ultimately when the film comes out, people will either be won over or they won’t.

She would be in good company among actors cast in iconic roles where initial backlash eventually gave way to adoration. Joining Halle Bailey in Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid are Awkwafina as Scuttle, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Harry Styles as Prince Eric, with Javier Bardem in talks to play King Triton and possibly Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, although she’s playing coy about that at the moment.

The Little Mermaid does not yet have a release date. For films that do, check out our 2019 premiere guide.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.