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Comments for ‘The Little Mermaid’ Star Halle Bailey Opens up About ‘Black Ariel Backlash’

halle bailey ariel

Credit: The List/Disney

61 Comments

  1. Dan

    Truth be told, as long as she does this classic character justice, the actor playing Ariel could come from the planet Zog, be green and have 5 eyes as far as I care!

    My big question is: when COVID restrictions are eventually loosened and the movie has been released, how will the meet and greets be dealt with at the parks?

    So far, the live action actors have looked relatively similar to their cartoon counterparts with only a couple of exceptions. Would this stand to confuse some of the younger audience – those most likely to want a princess visit – who have only seen one interpretation of the story?

    Indeed, would this need to have an impact on the Little Mermaid ride at Magic Kingdom? While clearly based on the classic animated movie, could this be seen as racial bias in the BLM era where so many companies are urgently reviewing their historic works against today’s standards (some rightly so, but some over zealously!)?

    1. Dont worry she will! If you hear her sing her voice sounds just like Ariel!!! She will suprise tf outta you!

  2. Stan P

    I will be happy with the casting IF Disney agrees to throw out all the red-hair white mermaid merchandise. You know what the chances of that are….

    1. EDB

      You serious Stan P? Sounds like a little bit of racial bias….

    2. Joyce Lindsey

      I’m with you Stan. Too confusing for youngsters and not necessary. Enough of the change everything to make some happy.

      1. What people fail to understand is when all of the charters were made during the 1600-1800s the world was in a different place. Even when they remade the cartoon versions. While I understand and no offense(white/any race audience) its hard seeing change, especially growing up with characters you love. The only thing I ask is you be considerate to all non-white children who grow up asking their parents why are no princesses Black. If you think its hard to tell your white children that Ariel was white but now shes black is hard, We all live in a diversified time were I think your child will understand that princesses can be any race( Just as we can choose to date any race). Educate your child yourself and not look to disney or fox to do it. At the end of the day the color they care about is green anyways. If its hard to tell your children this, then we have bigger problems. One minute yall want black people to stop bringing up race and civil rights but then comments like the ones above make you think it’s not over and there is still room to grow.

        1. Michael

          They really wanted to be PC and change the mermaid and the race they should have actually made the girl Polynesian asian or Hispanic being as the stories come from Caribbean and Pacific origins.
          Honestly in Indian would actually look really cool as a mermaid.
          I’ve never heard of a black mermaid with an afro.

  3. EricJ

    It’s not so much that we’re complaining about Black Ariel HERSELF–
    It’s more sort of a frustrated psychological attempt to find any other side issue to complain about, since we know it’ll be too frustrating to pursue our main central complaint, “Why are they even DOING this anymore??”

    (And I’m not sure about the other remakes, but the reason they’re doing Mermaid is left over from “Cinderella”, “Aladdin” and “Dumbo”, back when Disney’s big idea was to get famous Signature directors to remake them–Mermaid was going to be Sophia Coppola’s, but then that Funny or Die YouTube video went viral.)

  4. Mary

    The young lady won the role through her talent & therefore deserves the role regardless of her race. Looking forward to the Live performance after pandemic

    1. Andrea

      I think its confusing for a child to see a red hair white mermaid cartoon which they love, and now a black ariel. Keep the stories the same. Don’t change a character’s race. And for the record I am not préjudice. We are a diversified family.

  5. DEBORAH D CUBERLY

    I am very disappointed that they chose to make Ariel a person of color no offence to anyone Halle Bailey is a fine actress but I will always see Ariel as a light skinned beautiful red haired character. I think this change will confuse children. They have only seen her as a light skinned red headed character, by making this change it throws off the whole story to me.. I wish Disney would of left her as she has always been. I would like to see more characters of color it shows all children how different we all are. But PLEASE don’t change the whole story which is what you are doing by making her a whole different ethic character.

    1. Jamie

      This is a stupid comment <3
      By saying that only a white redhead can play Ariel, you're limiting all the young black girls in the world that dream of themselves as princesses or mermaids.
      This is a very shallow comment that devalues Halle Bailey's ability as an actress to embody the role of the same Ariel we know and love, regardless of the color of her skin.
      Please take the time to reconsider your ignorance, as I'm sure many young children will be very excited to see the character of The Little Mermaid come to life through such a beautiful singer and personality.

      1. Joyce Lindsey

        And just as many will be totally confused. Not an ignorant comment. Actually a great one.

      2. Amanda

        thank you for this.

        i think the truth of the problem comes out when you consider that bailey’s ariel can still have red hair.

        Ariel’s signature qualities were her red hair and singing voice.

      3. Fra

        Sorry. I agree with Joyce. I take it your black? I hope so, because if you’re White that’s even more of a disgrace. We don’t wanna see beloved black characters from books movies and tv shows remade with white characters. So why do you feel another definite failure of a movie where the race of a character is changed yet again will work? All those movies have failed miserable. Disney is retarded for doing this. The movies gonna be a big ole pos!

      4. Jessica

        Maybe instead of making a live action version the first place they should focus on making ORIGINAL content that feature POC. Yes it’s upsetting, people grew up with this dear character and will have strong opinions about how the character is portrayed. However, instead of saying “what about the black actresses that want to be princesses and mermaids” well then why not say that disney should focus on ADDING characters like that into stories instead of changing already established characters

    2. Joyce Lindsey

      Great comment. I totally agree. Let us love the little red head.

    3. olivia f woodard

      They are not changing the whole story, fictional characters get played by who is deemed fit, as a black young female I think it’s great that there was finally going to be some representation beside a princess that was a FROG 90% of the movie, plus live action isn’t really meant for easily confused kids.

  6. bc

    Why doesn’t Disney get creative, and make a whole new type of Little Mermaid that wouldn’t desecrate little girls images of The Little Mermaid. One of Ariel’s sisters or something. It would make a whole lot more sense

    1. Kiwi

      Now this is a good idea.

    2. Sukii

      I was thinking the same thing! (I’m sure if they do the Princess and the Frog they for sure aren’t going to cast a fair skinned actor for any of the characters.) The little mermaid meet and greet will be a mess and add to the division in our parks. It’s going to be cringe worthy. Hailey needs her own mermaid movie. Her own mermaid name. Give her a truly amazing movie that will help her stand on her human feet. I’m ready for some new stories!!

      1. Mkd

        Agreed in Disney need to stop giving hand me down characters to black actors and start creating characters for black actors or come up with something new. In the recent years Disney has done a lot of red washing of characters with red hair and fair skin and have been replacing them with black women, Spiderman and a few other franchises through Disney has done this and it’s getting very old. It’s like Disney is not demonizing women with red hair. Agreed in Disney needs to stop giving hand me down characters to black actors and start creating characters for black actors or come up with something new. In the recent years Disney has done a lot of red washing of characters with red hair and fair skin and have been replacing them with black women, Spiderman and a few other franchises through Disney has done this and it’s getting very old. It’s like Disney is not demonizing women with red hair.

      2. Jessica

        Yess!!! This!!!! Disney needs to focus on making original content with POC characters instead of changing already existing characters to fit their “progressive” narrative. Totally agree! I want to see Hailey in a mermaid princess roll, however I don’t want to see her as Ariel and I honestly can’t see her as Ariel.

  7. Kevin H Jones

    You had to know this was coming. Huge eye roll here. I am not familiar with the actress, but she’s pretty, so why not? Changing up merchandise to get rid of the cartoon version would not be Disney style. How many versions do we have of Mickey, or Goofy? I wish her the best. Anything would be better than Shaggy’s version of Under the Sea.

    1. Sharon

      Halle looks nothing like the character she’s trying to imitate. Recast!

    2. Omg yall people are not understanding the reason for why she was casted. She was casted because she was the best person to audition for Ariel. They did not cast her because she was black. I mean if you hear her sing, she embodies the characters already so.. yeah watch when this film comes out it will get great reviews.

  8. Roger Stevens

    All the live action re-makes have not done the orginal concept any favors, I do nor expect this one to do any better not matter who the actors are. Good Luck. Animation should stay Animation. Classics should not be messed with. Just a opinion.

    1. Jay

      I agree. No more remakes, reboots and revivals. Please!

  9. EDB

    Where to start? OK, here goes: haters gonna hate. And to those haters I say: Get over it! Disney is not going to listen to your complaints as long as their movies are making billions of dollars. They will probably remake the Sword and the Stone with the first bisexual Merlin or something like that, and it will get a ton of complaints, but they’ll do it any way. I won’t see the new LM when it comes out, but only because I was never really a fan to begin with, not because of the actress’ race. I hope nothing but the best for Ms. Bailey.

    1. Anastacia

      How is this any different than the uproar on white people playing roles for people of color in the parks? I’m Latina and Indian and I agree with the princesses being presented as they were intended in the parks but what makes that different than the films? Ariel is known as a fair skinned red head so why is this okay? It seems that it’s not okay on one side but okay on the other. Why not create another beautiful black princess like Tiana for this role to be played instead of changing a treasured character?

      1. Anastacia

        This wasn’t supposed to be a reply, lol. I intended this as a separate comment.

      2. Jeannie

        I agree with you! I fully support more diversity within in the realm of Disney. But they can’t argue that no other race/ethnicity should portray Tiana, Jasmine, Mulan…..and then turn around and demand traditionally “white” princesses be recast. I love the idea of a “new” little mermaid, one of Ariel’s sisters, to have her own story! I want new stories! Keep the classics as they are are create new princesses!

      3. Scarlet Toruno

        Yes that’s what I was thinking, can they create a new story for once and yes she can be a Woman of color who is a princess and a mermaid or whatever other thing they want to be , a new a story and add onto the Ariel story or whatever.

  10. Gee

    As talented and beautiful as Miss Bailey does Disney lack the talent to create African tales. Cleopatra was a Queen. I’m sure there is amazing African folklore and I bet if a white actor with a tan were chosen, there would be backlash. Disney, look into those stories and stop the PC! It’s lame.

  11. Sharon

    Stop changing things. Disney isn’t going to become more popular by catering to specific groups of people. Will probably loose some fans. I, for one, will not spend my money to see this Little Mermaid remake.

  12. Faithful Friend

    Halle Bailey is a beautiful young lady, and fine actress, and I believe they ultimately chose to change the original character’s appearance based on the area she lived in. Think about it, the theme song is played to steel drums, and her decopod friend, Sebastian, sounds Afro-Carribean. I believe it makes logical sense to make the main character Afro-Carribean as well.

    1. amanda

      this makes complete sense to me.

      And bailey has an INCREDIBLE voice that is perfect for Ariel.

    2. Jacklyn

      And yet they didn’t change the race of her father, who would live in the same area as his daughter.

  13. Darnel

    So the princess and the frog should get an Asian character to portray that princess! Yes that makes perfect sense fits the story aye well as much as a ridiculous colored mermaid from a Danish origin.

  14. How about all yall crybaby weirdos would just shut tf up. Yall should she mad at the fact that they are remaking the movie instead. Yall crying and complaining ain’t going to solve nothing. Halle Bailey is still playing Ariel, get over it.

  15. David Bird

    I am mad that they are doing a remake. All of this casting is a way to pander to some people. Are they doing it to just make the news? I just see it messing up the branding of The Little Mermaid. It will confuse and divide people.

  16. Paul Alter

    Little kids will get confused about Ariel? Really? That’s the argument for the slightly veiled bigotry here?

    I worked with Disney Consumer Products for many years. I have complete faith that they have analyzed, vetted, and sweated over this more than anyone can imagine. And run focus groups out the wazoo, at a bare minimum. If they didn’t see a major market opportunity here they would’ve taken a different approach.

  17. Bethanie G

    Absolutely WONDERFUL!! Young children need to know all roles are within their grasp. While some roles in shows, such as Hairspray, require race specific casting, most should be open to all.

    Currently, BIPOC performers are scarce because children are not encouraged to pursue performing arts as a career. If we want to see chang, we open up opportunities so young people know no dream is beyond their grasp.

  18. Jane O

    I think it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen Disney do. Create a new story for 100 black women. I’m certainly not prejudice but facts are facts. Ariel is a red headed white mermaid. If they wanted Ariel to be black why didn’t they make her black in the first place. I’m just sayin. It’s just going to cause all kind of fighting and hating and trouble. And We certainly don’t need more of that. The whole thing is stupid.

  19. jamarcus T

    Although I agree with most of the comments on here I cannot sit and think that I have to accept them. What people fall to understand is when all of the charters were made during the 1600-1800s the world was in a different place. Even when they remade the cartoon versions. While I understand and no offense(white audience) its hard seeing change, especially growing up with characters you love. The only thing I ask is you be considerate to all non-white children who grow up asking their parents why are no princesses Black. If you think its hard to tell your white children that Ariel was white but now shes black is hard imagine what I said. We all live in a diversified time were I think your child will understand that princesses can be any race( Just as we can choose to date any race). Educate your child yourself and not look to disney or fox to do it. At the end of the day the color they care about is green anyways. If its hard to tell your children this, then we have bigger problems. One minute yall want black people to stop bringing up race and civil rights but then comments like the ones above make you think it’s not over and there is still room to grow.

  20. Diane

    So disappointed. We love the Little Mermaid, and was excited to hear about a remake coming out. Why change a classic? Aerial should stay the same. I along with many others won’t be watching it!

  21. Vivica

    Love the actress but Ariel is a very pale white with bright red hair. There is a uproar about casting people to match the part she does not come even close to matching the part BLM keep jumping in and want the people casted correctly in the parks like Tiana so if this happens how is she going to be at the parks white with red hair or African American or are they going to have 2 different people portraying her all the merchandise all the movies that have all ready released how are they going to explain that all away. Think again Disney you keep caving in when will this reverse discrimination end.

  22. Lauren

    Ariel is not black, she is white! What if we made the Black Panther a white guy? He’s not a white guy, he’s black! It’s a shame that in today’s PC society that there is such pressure to be so ethnically sensitive that a classic character is completely changed in order to satisfy demands for “diversity”. It’s OK to stay true to character in order to maintain the story. It’s OK to celebrate all races and their history and origins! It’s not ok to pretend you are something you are not just to get a pat on the back for being “diverse”.

    1. Liz

      When in the story did Ariel dignify her red-head whiteness????
      She’s half fish!
      Black Panther is a story that gave a measure of dignity to the people of Africa.
      Your silly comparison is veiled racism. By the way, Disney wasn’t searching for a black Ariel. “Diversity” doesn’t bite. Please learn. Understand beyond your bubble. Be more humane.

  23. Liz

    Can’t wait to see Halle play Ariel. I have worked with children and sincerely don’t think that children will have a hard time understanding that there are different versions of fictional characters. Congratulations to the beautiful young lady for landing the role.

  24. D. Kelly

    Unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE. Was one of my FAVOURITE films growing up. Don’t Disney know there only causing MORE hate and arguing between white folk and “yall”. I don’t understand why Disney is doing this. Their recasting Cinderella’s Fairy GodMother as a Gay black man as well… this world is gone crazy. Spike Lee went Ballistic and campaigned all over America when Micheal Mann was set to Direct Ali back in 2001. And he’s not even on SCREEN. The world bending over backwards and bowing down to the likes of BLM is driving the BIGGEST wedge between whites and blacks. Denzel and Sam Jackson were amongst some of my mostest FAVOURITEST actors… lately I can’t STAND to look at them. Seriously. All this crap is causing SOOO much division. Won’t be bringing my kids to watch any Black Ariel’ or gay black fairy godmothers. Ruining Hollywood. Thanks again, “yall”

  25. Stacey

    I’m just confused on how they will handle merchandise. Something tells me Disney did not think this whole thing through. Yes, Halle has a beautiful voice and I’m sure she’ll bring some personality to the character. But will she get more than a limited edition doll? They would have to do more than the other live action movies like sell Halle t-shirts, costumes, cups, necklaces, and more because if they don’t they will receive even more backlash. The ride will have to be changed too because it will cause confusion as to why the live action Ariel is black but the cartoon is white. Also, park appearances would be a disaster if they didn’t also include a black Ariel. Yet people claim that it doesn’t matter what race Ariel is. If this was true, then people would be fine with keeping the original merchandise and branding but we all know that won’t be true.

  26. Immy

    I congratulate Halle Bailey on getting the role as I’m sure she deserved it but I don’t see how Ariel can be a female of colour because both her parents are white. Sometime please tell me how this is possible????

    If Disney is excluding/not counting A Little Mermaid:Ariel’s Beginning which shows her mother as white then forget what I said. If they are then its fine because in The Little Mermaid her mother is a mystery so it makes sense

  27. Issa

    I’m sure Halle Bailey is a wonder actress and singer. I wish they would have left Ariel as she originally was. I can see the point of view of people of color wanting a more representation in Disney. In which case I think Disney should create more movies to expand cultural diversity for all races and not change so much the originals others have grown up on and love. What about all the fair skinned and red haired little girls that grow up loving Ariel because they looked like a beautiful red headed mermaid princess. Now they feel left out because they changed her in the live action. I understand not everyone can be pleased however keep to the originals and create new beautifullly diverse characters.

    I’m sure Halle will do a wonderful job. I look forward to seeing the movie.

  28. Diane Austin

    It’s not about race, it’s about the setting, culture. If anyone read the book they’d know why the little mermaid was portrayed white, look at where it took place. Now unless they make the setting somewhere else like they did with the Princess and the Frog, then there would definitely be an issue. They’d have to change the storyline quite a bit, but that is fine, as long as you make it be culturally correct. Don’t confuse cultural with racism.

    1. I dont mind her playing as Ariel i loved the little mermaid i am rooting for you halle Bailey if you think about it disney made her white the original story is just a book plus there are many different animation cartoons of the little mermaid out there also so many people have changed and remaid the mermaid story so many times anyways so it should not matter if she plays as ariel no one critizied disney when they rewrote the original authors story so plus race should not matter that’s stereo typing her when everyone already made different versions of the little mermaid and I think disney is doing a great job remaking it are generation is remaking everything anyways so it’s good there changing it up a bit

  29. Mickey Mouse

    As long as nobody has a problem with Zooey Deschanel playing Princess Tiana in “The Princess and The Frog” along side Zac Efron as Prince Naveen, then what the heck is the problem? My only request is that they keep Jenifer Lewis as Mama Odie and Oprah as Eudora!

  30. Qui Varner

    This whole thread is hilarious.
    1-ppl keep saying kids will be confused when the vast majority of ppl who are familiar with the original are 30+ like myself
    2. Are kids going to be confused or are u confused?
    3. If race doesn’t matter, than why does Ariel being black or white matter?
    4. Is it the red hair? I gotta couple wigs or weaves that could take care of that ??
    5. We all admit she’s talented, so whats the big deal???

  31. RS

    Black people should be pissed about being given a role that was originally white. Why? Because it says they are not enough for their own original roles. It should be insulting that Hollywood doesn’t put in the effort to create new and original characters for blacks. Instead they get the hand me downs. Hollywood doesn’t trust blacks enough to make them money so they are giving them more roles in the name of diversity. This movie is just Disney saying “Look at us! We’re woke and love blacks!” It’s amazing that people don’t see through it.

  32. Anonymous

    I think it wasn’t a great design and I say this with no hate to people of color themselves, it’s not the fact that the actress is black its the fact that Ariel is not, it’s just like the fact that live-action Mulan included magic, it wasn’t there before why change something that’s already fine, making a black Ariel is like making a white Tiana or Pocahontas it’s just not right

  33. Rebecca

    It’s amazing how divided we can become over a movie. Yes, the issues we argue over are bigger than a movie, but when we stop and really think about it…. It’s a movie. Even I got wrapped up in it and am still pulling myself together. I’m a white redhead and related to the little mermaid because she was the only redheaded princess ( I didn’t grow up with Brave, I know that’s coming). So when I found out Halle Bailey was going to play her, the only thought I had was….” Is she going to have red hair?” Why does that matter? It shouldn’t but my emotions want it to. We are already so divided, don’t let something so small tear us apart.

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