'The Little Mermaid' star Halle Bailey talks racist backlash on Ariel casting: 'Not really a shock'

She also says she was in 'disbelief' and 'grateful' after watching videos of young Black girls reacting to the teaser trailer.

ByDan Heching, CNN, CNNWire
Friday, February 24, 2023
'The Little Mermaid' star Halle Bailey opens up about racist backlash
Bailey, who stars as "Ariel" in the highly anticipated live-action film, spoke in a new interview about reactions she encountered after being cast.

LOS ANGELES -- Halle Bailey can't wait for audiences to see the new live-action "The Little Mermaid" and is unfazed by naysayers.

In a new interview with The Face published on Thursday, the singer and actor said that the backlash that arose when news broke of her being cast as mermaid Ariel -- and again when the first glimpse of her in the role was revealed last fall -- was not surprising.

"As a Black person, you just expect it and it's not really a shock anymore," the Grammy nominee said.

"People don't understand that when you're Black there's this whole other community," she shared. "It's so important for us to see ourselves."

MORE: Watch Halle Bailey transform into Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid' teaser trailer

"The Little Mermaid" is out in theaters on May 26, 2023. Watch the teaser trailer now.

To that point, Bailey also mentioned that after the teaser dropped, when parents started sharing videos of their Black daughters marveling at Bailey as Ariel, she stared at them "in disbelief."

"It makes me feel more grateful for where I am," she said.

The rising star also credited the "Little Mermaid" filmmakers with allowing her authentic identity to be a part of this new iteration of the aquatic Disney princess, specifically with regard to her hair.

"As a Black woman, hair is spiritual, especially locs," Bailey said, also mentioning that a significant portion of prep time on set was devoted to analyzing how her hair moved in water.

"It was really cool for them to make Ariel a version of me with my locs," she added.

"The Little Mermaid," based on the 1989 animated classic, also stars Melissa McCarthy as sea witch Ursula. It is slated for release on May 26.

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