When the teaser trailer for the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid debuted at Disney’s D23 Expo last week, black girls rejoiced. Not only did they see themselves on screen in the form of Halle Bailey’s Ariel — who has red dreadlocks, as well as the iconic green tail and purple top — but she was singing one of the most iconic Disney songs of all time: “Part of Your World.”
“She’s brown like me,” one young fan shouted in a reaction video, with another adding, “Her skin is like mine.”
Bailey, of the singing sister duo Chloe x Halle, was taken aback by all the love, sharing a compilation video of the positive feedback and writing, “Seeing these little babies reactions makes me so emotional 💗this means the world to me 💗😭 thank you all for your unwavering support.”
And although she is, sadly, aware of the racist trolls commenting about her casting as the beloved red-haired mermaid, Bailey ignores the negativity and is focused on the “amazing” opportunity to front the remake of a movie she adored as a young girl.
Speaking with E! News at the D23 Expo, Bailey, 22, said she felt the pressure to embody the character of Ariel and held herself accountable during filming.
“I definitely think that because I love this movie so much, and I’ve treasured it since I was a little girl, I did put a bit of pressure on myself, just because I want to deliver all of the feels that I saw when I was a little girl,” she told E!. “But knowing I gave it my all and put 110 percent into everything of this film, I am really proud of myself.”
Bailey said seeing it all come together in the trailer was a “wow” moment and she’s looking forward to the movie hitting the big screen on May 26, 2023.
Directed by Rob Marshall, The Little Mermaid also stars Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Awkwafina as Scuttle and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric.
Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the 1989 animated film, sent her support to Bailey following the film’s panel at D23. She praised her successor on her Instagram Story, writing, “Halle, you were absolutely amazing! I’m SO proud of you and your beautiful performance as Ariel!”
Bailey said the praise meant “the world” and thanked Benson for making “Ariel magical for us.”
“I’m so excited about this film,” Bailey told E!. “…The fact that I get to be a part of something like this. It’s amazing.”