Culture

Halle Bailey on How She Coped With Racist Backlash Following 'The Little Mermaid' Casting

While also discussing why representation matters.

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Halle Bailey made headlines in 2019 when it was announced she would be playing Ariel in the live-action version of The Little Mermaid. Though it was such an exciting time for the actor, it’s also been difficult due to racist backlash.

Since then, Bailey has found ways on how to best deal with challenges presented. “It’s important to have a strong support system around you,” she told Variety. “It’s hard to carry the weight of the world on your own.”

Thankfully, Bailey had her grandparents to lean on. They also shared their own experiences with discrimination and racism. She added, “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.”

Representation matters and that’s what’s made this role a special one for the singer-slash-performer. “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,” she said. “There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be. That reassurance was something that I needed.”

Additionally, Bailey can relate to Ariel on some level, which made it easier for her to bring the character to life. “Her sense of longing, her searching for herself, was something that I could resonate with,” she explained. “She knew where she wanted to go, and she wasn’t going to let anybody stop her.”

The Little Mermaid is slated to premiere on May 26, 2023.

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