How Beyoncé helped The Little Mermaid’s live-action Ariel, Halle Bailey, cope with some of the abhorrent racist responses to her casting.
When it came to responding to racist backlash to The Little Mermaid, Beyoncé proved to be a major help to star actor Halle Bailey. Following the story of the original The Little Mermaid animated movie, the live-action version will explore the love between a mermaid princess and her human prince. With her father disapproving of their relationship, Ariel must seek help from some of the darker elements of the ocean in order to reach the surface.
While the original Ariel actor supports Bailey’s casting, that hasn’t stopped racist reactions to a Black actor playing Ariel. If Bailey was paying attention when her casting was first announced, she would have seen tirades of abuse aimed against her. Thankfully, in an interview with The Face, Bailey revealed that the superstar Beyoncé showed her that it’s best to ignore the comments. Check out her quote below:
“As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore. When [Chlöe and I] first signed to Parkwood, [Beyoncé] was always like: ‘I never read my comments. Don’t ever read the comments.’ Honestly, when the teaser came out, I was at the D23 Expo [the biggest Disney fan event] and I was so happy. I didn’t see any of the negativity.”
Everything We Know About The Live-Action The Little Mermaid
The live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid is expected to release on May 26 and will portray the full story of Bailey’s Ariel. Alongside Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women) will be playing Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) will be Ursula, Javier Bardem (Skyfall) will be King Triton, Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) will be voicing Sebastian, and Jacob Tremblay (Harley Quinn) will be right beside him, voicing Flounder. Everything about The Little Mermaid indicates that its star-studded cast will easily bring the same emotional atmosphere that the original The Little Mermaid did.
Of course, there will be some changes to The Little Mermaid‘s story that will help develop more agency for Ariel. Though Disney hasn’t been entirely clear about what those changes will be, besides updating Ariel’s costume, it is understandable, as the original message that came with Ariel running off to Eric is somewhat worrying, given Ariel’s youth. If Ariel is to serve as a role model to young girls, some changes are necessary.
Some confirmed elements that will be shifted are that, as a more progressive Ariel, Bailey will be finding freedom on the surface and making a difference in the wider world, rather than searching for a man. The live-action version will also feature new music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, who previously worked with Disney to create music for Moana. Meanwhile, while Beyoncé likely won’t be appearing in Bailey’s The Little Mermaid, her influence on Bailey makes her presence felt all the same.