Halle Bailey is making Disney history as Ariel in the upcoming live-action adaption of The Little Mermaid, and she doesn’t have time for the haters. In 2019 Bailey officially announced her role as the beloved mermaid on Twitter. “Dream come true…,” the 22-year-old wrote alongside a picture of the princess portrayed as a woman of color. Bailey’s casting is a monumental step toward inclusivity for Disney as she is the first woman of color to play a traditionally white princess. In a February 23 interview with The Face, she explained how following advice from Beyoncé kept her from engaging with negative backlash following the cast announcement.
Halle and her sister Chlöe Bailey were signed by Beyoncé’s record label, Parkwood Entertainment, in 2015 as the duo Chloe x Halle. Beyoncé took the sisters under her wing and guided the early days of their careers. Halle Bailey noted that a word of advice from Queen Bey stuck like glue: “I never read my comments. Don’t ever read the comments.” So simple yet so effective.
Unfortunately, Bailey wasn’t surprised by the negativity. “As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore,” she said. The first official teaser for The Little Mermaid was released in September 2022 and shared a glimpse of Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel. “Honestly, when the teaser came out, I was at the D23 Expo [an event for Disney superfans] and I was so happy. I didn’t see any of the negativity.”
Friends and family sent Bailey videos of children reacting to the teaser, many of which were excited to see a person of color representing their favorite mermaid. “I was crying all night for two days, just staring at them in disbelief,” she said. “It makes me feel more grateful for where I am.”