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Halle Bailey says backlash to her casting in Little Mermaid is 'not really a shock any more'

Gregory Robinson

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Halle Bailey says backlash to her casting in Little Mermaid is 'not really a shock any more'

Featured Image Credit: AFF / Alamy Stock Photo / Disney

Halle Bailey has spoken out about the racist backlash to her casting in the upcoming Little Mermaid live-action film.

In July 2019, Halle Bailey was officially announced as the actress chosen to portray the world’s most iconic mermaid for the live-action version of the Disney classic.

The casting news was met with intense backlash and vitriol from fans on social media, however, with some Disney fans tweeting #NotMyAriel in response.

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Some people even went as far as using ‘mermaid science’ to try and justify why a Black person couldn’t portray a mythological creature that isn’t actually real.

One self-described mermaid scientist said: “My opinion on why mermaids are white is that they live so deep underwater that sunlight hardly reaches them, thus the lack of melanin.

"It doesn’t matter what ocean they’re from cos they could’ve been migrating seasonally like fishes. But maybe I’m thinking too much.”

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Another bitter wave of backlash came when the film’s teaser trailer dropped in September last year.

Halle Bailey's casting as Ariel caused a ridiculous amount of backlash. Credit: Disney
Halle Bailey's casting as Ariel caused a ridiculous amount of backlash. Credit: Disney

And now, in a new interview with The Face magazine, the 22-year-old singer and actress said she wasn’t surprised by the nasty comments made about her casting.

“As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore,” she shared.

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The former Grown-ish star then revealed that music icon and Queen of being unbothered, Beyoncé, gave her and her sister - fellow musician Chlöe Bailey - some advice regarding online comments.

Queen Bey told both sisters to avoid reading comments made by people on social media: “When [Chlöe and I] first signed to Parkwood, B was always like: ​‘I never read my comments. Don’t ever read the comments’.”

Bailey was enjoying all the festivities at the Disney Expo – the multimedia company’s biggest fan event – when the trailer dropped.

“I was so happy,” she said. “I didn’t see any of the negativity.”

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Bailey said Beyoncé taught her to ignore online comments. Credit: @hallebailey/Instagram
Bailey said Beyoncé taught her to ignore online comments. Credit: @hallebailey/Instagram

Thankfully, Bailey was supported by her grandparents and emotional TikTok posts of Black children reacting to seeing her as Ariel on screen.

In a YouTube Q&A, the Grammy nominee said she wants little girls just like her to feel special: "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: "There's no reason that they shouldn't be. That reassurance was something that I needed."

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"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'."

The Little Mermaid will be released in cinemas on 26 May 2023.

Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV, Disney, Celebrity

Gregory Robinson
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