Halle Bailey’s ‘Little Mermaid’ is already making waves among young Black girls

Following the teaser trailer for the live-action version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, parents of young Black girls are posting videos across social media of their children’s reactions to seeing Halle Bailey as Ariel.

“I wanna watch it!” a girl says in a video posted by TikTok user Adelia Chaiyakul.

“Mommy! … She’s brown like me!” says a girl in another TikTok.

Many similar videos have been shared across social media since the teaser trailer was released on Friday, with hashtags such as #representationmatters and #Blackgirlmagic. The trailer has surpassed 12 million views.

Disney first unveiled a sneak peek of its live-action adaptation of the 1989 animated film at its D23 Expo. In the video, fans get a brief look at Bailey, an actress and singer from the R&B duo Chloe x Halle, playing the lead role of Ariel.

In addition to Bailey, the film features actor Daveed Diggs as the voice of Sebastian, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as Triton, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, and Awkwafina as Scuttle.

In an interview with Variety, Bailey, 22, addressed the backlash towards her casting in the lead role. Some on social media have used the hashtag #NotMyAriel to say that casting a Black actress goes against the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, which was originally published in Denmark in 1837. In the wake of that, Bailey said that her grandparents offered her some perspective.

“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,'” Bailey said.

“I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special and that they should be a princess in every single way,” she added.

The original animated 1989 film tells the story of a young mermaid, Ariel, who falls in love with a human prince. In order to win him over, she makes a deal with a sea witch named Ursula to become a human.

The Little Mermaid is set to be released in theaters on May 26, 2023.

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