Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey shocked by racist comments

Published By Alexandra Heilbron on Mar 22, 2023

Halle Bailey in Disney's The Little MermaidHalle Bailey, who was chosen to play Ariel in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid remake, has admitted she was shocked by the fan reaction when it was first announced she'd been cast. More racist comments came in after the teaser trailer was released online.

She told Edition magazine, "Seeing the world’s reaction to it was definitely a shock, but seeing all the babies’ reactions, all the brown and Black young girls, really tore me up emotionally."

After watching videos of little Black girls who were thrilled to find that Ariel was the same color as them, she wrote on Twitter: "People have been sending these reactions to me all weekend and I’m truly in awe, this means the world to me."

Halle said she'd first watched the animated film when she was five, and Ariel was always her favorite Disney princess. She added, “It’s honestly been such a crazy ride, and I genuinely feel shocked and honored and grateful to be in this position. A lot of times, I have to pinch myself and be like, is this real life? I feel like I learned so much through her. I auditioned when I was 18, got the role when I was 19, and I turn 23 this year. So I genuinely feel like [Ariel’s] helped me grow up."

The Little Mermaid hits theaters May 26, 2023. ~Alexandra Heilbron

Comments & Discussion

  1. Vickie Jones • 3/23/2023 10:09:00 AM

    Wasn't Ariel red-haired, & youngish looking in the original story? If people of color want to be in fairy tales, why don't they create them? If a white woman was playing a colored folklore character, wouldn't that be deemed CULTURAL APPROPRIATION?

  2. Self • 3/23/2023 10:19:17 AM

    You racist! You cannot call it cultural appropriation on a FICTIONAL CREATURE. Mermaids do not exist, ergo they could have been any color. Your true colors are obvious however, Vickie Jones.

  3. brian • 3/23/2023 10:35:08 AM

    Well said , Self . You were far more polite in your response to Vickie than I would have been. I'm white , and appreciate talent regardless of colour !

  4. Self2 • 3/23/2023 11:03:32 AM

    Vickie made soms straight forward points and self had a meltdown. This is what's wring with the world right now.

  5. Self3 • 3/23/2023 11:31:38 AM

    Vickie Jones made some of the usual points that racists make in situations like this. Self called her out. Self2 agreed with the racism and thus could not see how pointless Vicky's comment was and how eloquent Self's response was. You're right, Self2, this is what's "wring" with the world, this being people like you!

  6. Tom McCartney • 3/23/2023 12:14:07 PM

    You are all Wring!

  7. Stop making garbage mass market movies into political statements • 3/23/2023 12:47:06 PM

    The title is definitely a lie. Halle has been a Disney kid for over a decade, with a music career linked to Beyonce. She isn't a preteen anymore. There's no chance she hasn't sat through media training lessons, nor is there any chance she's been ignorant to the backlash racially inaccurate casting choices have received over the years. This is just her and Disney looking to create sympathy articles like this. Yes, Ariel is a mermaid and mermaids don't exist, but guess what? Scarlett Johanson was raked through the coals for accepting the lead role in Ghost in the Shell, a fictional (duh) futuristic cyberpunk story. That was despite the anime's director approving of her involvement and the character itself being someone who switches bodies. Nat Wolff was similarly accused of whitewashing for playing the lead in Death Note, another fictional story that had its location shifted from to Japan to the U.S. in its adaptation. Even voice actors in cartoons aren't safe. From The Simpsons to the latest Gundam anime dub, media outlets have been shaming actors who play characters that don't look like them or what they think they should look like. It doesn't seem as though the normal public agrees with whatever mental gymnastics are required to condemn those but celebrate this, especially when Disney's prior adaptation is so well known. It's hard not to be cynical about anything modern Disney does. This company has had multiple execs come out and say things that suggest they're no longer looking for the best people for the job. You had one infamously say they're trying to make as few shows/movies starring straight white people as possible. Another outright admitted to turning down scripts she felt were good because they weren't diverse enough. Even though the crew will say otherwise, it's hard to not think this is a product of that mindset. These controversial casting choices also give them free publicity. If they had cast a redhead in this role, this article wouldn't exist. It gives them a legion of defenders, too, by attempting to make supporting the latest trash (Disney's live-action adaptations historically aren't well regarded) put out by a multi-billion dollar multi-national into a political statement. They've done this a few times before and I expect to see it repeat. I mean, this is the company that thinks a non-white latina is the right choice for Snow White, a character who gets her name from how pale she is ... But whatever, I just wrote a long comment no one will read about a Disney remake no one will remember a few months after release. Which, in a way, is kind of the biggest condemnation. If you look up recent merch for The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast and Cinderella, you won't find stuff based on the remakes. You'll only find things inspired by the original animated films. If you actually care about representation, you should be looking to give black and brown girls their own unique characters, instead of alternate versions likely to fall into obscurity.

  8. Shadows • 3/23/2023 12:47:30 PM

    Honestly People, What does it matter who plays any role. Age, Color, background etc should no matter anymore. Wake up we are not living in the past. Come on It's already 2023!!! Just watch the movie and enjoy it. This world is so sad and it doesn't need all these negativity. This world needs Loads of positive energy. Besides haven't you heard of "If You can't Say anything Good, just Zip Your Mouth but in these cases Tie your fingers [due to textin].

  9. Carrol • 3/23/2023 1:04:59 PM

    Vickie Jones made a very valid and on-point comment!! I'm sick of all the bleeding hearts that just can't take the truth when someone says something they don't want to agree with, even when it makes sense & rings of total truth & valid facts!! Another comment -- of my own --- If people don't stop screaming "racism" every time they don't get the job, or don't get their own way, or says something they don't like --- they are the ones who will always be keeping racism alive & well. I have NEVER heard a person of color have something to say about anything without making a point to mention their color!!! Example: "As a black man/woman, I think this......". When will they ever stop thinking of themselves & other people in terms of color & start just regarding themselves & others as human beings????? Very tired of hearing them always blame their failures in life on their color. In this day & age --- everyone has equal opportunity -- the governments of most countries are FULL of colored people. It seems like they don't want to be "equal" - they want the red carpet!! The over-paid athletes on the teams of every kind of sport are 90% colored!! Yet --- they still scream that "nobody every gives them a chance" --- go complain about it to Barrack Obama & Camille Harris!!!

  10. Reign • 3/23/2023 5:00:10 PM

    Good heavens !!!!!! Is prejudice ever going to stop. For any reason , colour ,race ,sexual preferences .politics ,ice cream ,--- you name it and people will find a reason to spew hate . Can't we just let each other have our own preferences and keep our big mouths shut ? Go Halle Bailey !

  11. Barbara • 3/23/2023 5:10:14 PM

    Carrol you make some very valid points!!! It is exactly as you described! And I am so happy someone is bold enough to say the truth!!!!!!

  12. Me • 3/23/2023 6:04:26 PM

    I like how everyone is all upset about the colour of the person playing the Little Mermaid and saying the original one was a redhead...WRONG. The only description of her in the original story by Hans Christian Anderson is this: The youngest was the prettiest of them all; her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea; but, like all the others, she had no feet, and her body ended in a fish’s tail. He doesn't even give her a name. The last time I checked a roses leaf is GREEN, so unless there is a race of green people out there all upset about misrepresentation, no one should be upset about Halle Bailey playing this character.

  13. MAURICIO SAMURAI • 3/23/2023 6:21:24 PM

    As a Straight Hispanic Male who's got young girls, disney has ruined the little mermaid, (hold your soiled drawers) it has also ruined Peter pan, family shows, movies etc. It seems as disney DOESN'T LIKE ANYTHING GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL SO THE woke cowards HAS TO RUIN EVERYTHING. HMMM🤔 demons IN DISGUISE?

  14. Kris Coghlan • 3/23/2023 6:36:53 PM

    Great comments Vicki Jones - if a white woman was playing a coloured folklore character - all hell would break lose. Self - it was not a frigging racist post - ridiculous. Your true WOKE colours are showing.

  15. Laurie Ann Lilienthal- • 3/23/2023 8:23:55 PM

    I agree with Shadow, who cares what color the actor or actress is enjoy the movie. When God created 2 people on the earth they were not white or black, they were brown. We forget that we all came from those 2 people. We forget that Adam and Eve were the beginning, and that color came later according to the land and climate that people were living in. We all are related in some sense because we all came from Adam and Eve.

  16. John • 3/23/2023 8:59:24 PM

    OMGoodness, the hatred of some of these people is just sickening. No, you're Not saying the truth when you say they made a very valid & well-made point since the original was a pink skin mermaid. I don't think you can handle the truth but here it is, 1st the mermaid story is made-up but if you look at the creatures in the sea there are all different colours & types of fish etc. So why wouldn't there be all different types of mermaids just as there are humans too. Now The little Mermaid trailers I have seen so far, I think Disney did a fine job at picking Halle Bailey to play Ariel so those that say Disney never pick a talented person but is just trying to be 'Woke' is unbelievable & you know that if things were vice versa & Ariel was originally a dark colour mermaid played by a white person you wouldn't be making such racist remarks but you would be ecstatic about it, just as the little dark colour kids are at seeing Ariel being a colour mermaid! - So please for God's sake, get some help & let the story of Ariel's adventure shine through since hatred aways spoils things & snuffs out any love that this story is about & that is putting yourself in someone else life & loving them no matter the colour of their skin or type of creature they were made to be, since most creatures have a soul & can all feel joy & pain, know when they are loved or hated, & usually know the difference between good & evil & God doesn't see colours the same way we do. He sees the hearts & how they react towards others different than them & how dare anyone try & wake you to the truth, since you like to sleep while others are being woke!!

  17. Hollywood Trash • 3/23/2023 10:35:15 PM

    @Me That's a pointless thing to bring up because this isn't an adaptation of Hans' original story. As you mentioned, the mermaid isn't named in his book, but she's named in this movie. The book's ending is also bitter sweet in a way no modern big budget Hollywood film would dare to be. It's specifically an adaptation of Disney's 1989 adaptation. You know, the one where a pale redhead mermaid is named Ariel. Pointing out that was an inaccurate adaptation is an argument most relevant 30+ years ago.

  18. Hollywood Trash • 3/23/2023 11:01:41 PM

    @John "you know that if things were vice versa & Ariel was originally a dark colour mermaid played by a white person you wouldn’t be making such racist remarks but you would be ecstatic about it" Which decade are you still in to believe a movie like that would even get made? Disney is reportedly doing a Princess and the Frog live-action adaptation. There is no chance Disney will audition anyone who isn't black to play Tiana. No one would earnestly have a problem with that either. That's who Tiana should be portrayed by. It just comes across as hypocritical when they don't strive for screen authenticity when it comes to The Little Mermaid, Snow White or Peter Pan. I mean, they appear to have made it a point to mostly cast black actors for The Lion King remake because it's set in Africa. Every character in that movie is an animal ... Unless the character is so obscure no one's heard of it, white actors do become the target of hate in the social media age for playing characters who are either non-white or at least perceived to be. The only difference is that the media industry makes no excuses for that. Many outlets actually join in on that dogpile. That's why the people who heckled Scarlett Johanson for Ghost in the Shell weren't smeared as racists, even though they claimed her ethnicity should've prevented her from playing a cyborg who switches bodies. She had to defend herself in interviews, something you can read about on this very site:

  19. Someone • 3/25/2023 3:06:35 PM

    Best comment here is the one from "Stop making garbage mass market movies into political statements".

  20. Jaymz • 3/25/2023 3:15:30 PM

    Really?!? All of you people are full blown woke libtards!! None of it matters! You don't like the cast "don't watch it" don't like what people say... "Don't respond to it" divide & conquer has been the planned sense the 60's. It is working! Stop acting like butt hurt sjw, woke,libtards!!

  21. Wayne • 3/25/2023 9:12:11 PM

    Has anyone in this whole conversation ever read Andersen's story? Walt would not have twisted it beyond recognition. I'm 85 years old, and saw pretty much every film he made.

  22. jon dowe • 3/26/2023 3:29:27 PM

    I dont know when, I dont know how, But Iknow SOMTHING is starting right now! Whatch youll see . Its just a movie take it easy.

  23. Deb • 3/26/2023 5:03:01 PM

    I think whatever color of the person was in the original book or original movie, that it should be the same color on any subsequent movies. Stay consistent. If it was originally about a black person, then don’t cast a white person in a re-make of that movie. If the first movie was about a white person, then don’t change that color in a re-make. Heck, I hated when they drastically changed Willy Wonka! Keep it consistent with the original!

  24. Julie • 3/26/2023 9:52:41 PM

    I think Halle Bailey is a talent to be recognized. It doesn't matter what people think. It's great entertainment for all ages. Halle this is your moment to shine for all of us. Shine in gods eyes. You will rise above it all. God bless you.

  25. CDubya • 3/27/2023 12:22:56 PM

    It'!!! To some (new generation), it's not a remake of the 89 cartoon version. To others (their parents and older generation), it is, but why is this all chalked up to skin colour? Personally, if she can sing, go nuts! Give your head a shake if you are talking about cultural appropriation! It's a fantasy story. Not a culture! Disney can remake their products however they see fit. If they want to be more inclusive or "woke" as everyone is calling it, who cares?! Why does it bother you? How does it hurt you? If you ask me, Disney is correcting wrongs from decades of white princesses. It took them forever to get a Native American/Indigenous "princess" or Black Princess (Tiana) and because they want to "change" the race of one of their cartoon characters for the live version, people are all up in arms about it! Either watch or don't. I personally hope it makes a billion and people just go to enjoy the story and the songs and shut up about the damn skin colour!

  26. concerned parent • 3/27/2023 2:22:51 PM

    Forget colour, I think that their might be a huge age difference between the little mermaid and prince ERIC Iin this particular version .that is what cocerns me

  27. Andy • 3/27/2023 5:03:32 PM

    Lets summarise fictional character so can be. Anyone. One of my favorite and extremely talented people is Micheal Cain. Guess he ought to be seriously considered.

  28. Margie • 3/30/2023 8:36:10 PM

    I just watch the trailer for the Little mermaid movie. I for one will be going to see it. It looks like a very beautiful portrayal. I enjoy going to movies like this, since there is so much violence in movies and on television. I need some relief from all the Murders and other evil stuff. Disney’s Virgin of Ariel was off a young woman or teenager. From what I’ve seen Haley’s done a wonderful job.

  29. David Walker • 3/30/2023 8:43:23 PM

    Halle Berry is too old to be Ariel. And besides, any responsible parent has blacklisted all things Disney ever since they went unabashedly woke.

  30. David Walker • 3/30/2023 10:17:07 PM

    Oops, Halle Bailey. Not Halle Berry.

  31. SanD • 3/31/2023 2:51:00 PM

    Shadow put it all in its perspective ; it doesn’t matter who plays what or what color they or , whether the character looks like them or not it’s a movie and it’s just for entertainment sit back and enjoy. We don’t need to comment to putting somebody down because they’re black or white or whatever I love all people !!! well put Shadow and thank you !!!

  32. Kelryth • 4/4/2023 1:23:07 PM

    It is unfortunate, but what this really says is that people of colour characters are not important unless they replace white characters. They are just not important enough to go through the trouble to create new and interesting characters people of colour can be proud of.

  33. KC • 5/2/2023 3:06:27 AM

    Honestly if she does a good job in the movie. Who really cares what race Ariel is. I don’t see why this is such a huge deal. She got the part and clearly deserved the part. Why can’t we just be supportive of each other and just be happy for people in general. Why is there so much negativity. Life is too short to have so much hate towards people we don’t even know.

  34. Kelryth • 5/27/2023 12:32:10 AM

    You all should face the fact that you'd be pissed off if they cast a white actor to play Mace Windu or static shock or Black Lightning or any character that was originally black.

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