In a new interview with Variety, Halle Bailey opened up about her reaction to the racist backlash when she was cast as Disney’s Princess Ariel and how she coped with receiving hate.
Despite the horrors of Disney’s global storytelling, the only black Disney princess in the institution’s 99-year history has been Princess Tiana, who appeared on screen in 2009 with the New Orleans-set story The Princess and the Frog.
So when Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in the upcoming live-action version of The Little Mermaid in 2019, black women rejoiced on the internet.
There were many who were unable to embrace the idea of a black woman portraying a fictional mermaid with social media users sharing racist comments and memes and declaring that they do not support the film.
At the time, Halle claimed that he did not dwell on the negativity, but instead focused on gratitude as a way of ignoring the feedback. Now the star is finally talking about how she dealt with online racial attacks.
The Ungodly Hour singer told Variety that amid the trolling, her grandparents offered sympathetic words of support, reflecting on their own lived experiences of racism and discrimination.
It was such an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear words of encouragement, you don’t understand what it’s doing to us, to our community, to all those little black and brown girls who are themselves,” Halle said.
The Grown-ish star also talked about the importance of media representation for young girls of color, and how seeing a black, live-action version of Ariel can affect her younger self.
What he would have done for me, how he would be my confidence, my belief in myself, everything has changed. The things that seem so small to everyone else are too big for us.
I want that little girl in me and little girls like me who want to be known as princesses in every way, Halle said.
The Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall also defended Halle’s casting, confirming that she was the perfect person for the role, no matter the backlash.
After an extensive search, it became abundantly clear that Halle possessed a rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and matter. He told Variety that playing this coveted role requires all the inner qualities along with a melodious singing voice. Told.
Halle joins a long list of black actors who have been cast in fictional roles such as John Boyega, Moses Ingram, and Leah Jeffries who have received intense racial abuse by those who have imagined a world in which he can.
Most notably, Stormtroopers, Demigods and Mermaids do exist, but cannot imagine them as Black. Black people and other communities of color deserve to see themselves in every aspect of storytelling because our humanity matters.
Whether it comes in the form of real-life stories or a mermaid singing to a crab under the sea, we all deserve to see it.