Halle Bailey opened up about the pressure she’s been under over the last three years since she was cast as a Disney princess as a person of colour.
In the newest version of “The Little Mermaid”, Bailey stars as Ariel and will be Disney’s first Black princess to hit the big screen in a live-action film.
“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,” Bailey told Variety. “There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be. That reassurance was something that I needed.”
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Although Bailey is still a fan of the 1989 “Little Mermaid” cartoon, her recent experiences with the new adaptation have led her to reflect on the importance of media representation.
“What that would have done for me, how that would have changed my confidence, my belief in myself, everything. Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us,” the actress said.
Since Bailey’s 2019 casting announcement, most fans have been excited about her role — but the actress was also criticized by internet trolls who condemned the portrayal of a Black mermaid using the hashtag #NotMyAriel.
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Bailey recalled having a strong support system amidst the backlash. She was uplifted by sister Chloe Bailey and received valuable perspective from her grandparents, who shared memories of the racism and discrimination they overcame throughout their lives.
“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,’” Bailey shared.
“The Little Mermaid” is set to hit theatres in May 2023.