Little Mermaid: Parents of young Black girls are posting videos online of their children’s reactions to Halle Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel in the live-action version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
In a video posted by TikTok user Adelia Chaiyakul, a girl says, “I wanna watch it!”.
In another TikTok, a girl says, “Mommy! … She’s brown like me!”.
After the teaser trailer was released on Friday, similar videos were shared on social media, with hashtags including #representationmatters and #Blackgirlmagic. Views of the trailer have surpassed 12 million.
As part of its D23 Expo, Disney unveiled a sneak peek at its live-action adaptation of the 1989 animated film. As part of the video, fans are treated to a short glimpse of Bailey, who plays Ariel, a part she played in the R&B duo Chloe x Halle.
As well as Bailey, the film features Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as Triton, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, and Awkwafina as Scuttle.
Bailey, 22, spoke with Variety about the backlash she received following her casting as the lead. The hashtag #NotMyAriel has been used on social media to argue that casting a Black actress contradicts the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, which was first published in Denmark in 1837. Bailey said her grandparents provided her with some perspective after that.
As Bailey described it, “It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘you don’t realize what this means for us, for our community,'” they told her.
“I want the little girl in me and the little girls watching to know that they are special and they should be princesses in every way,” she said.
Originally animated in 1989, Ariel is a young mermaid who falls in love with a prince. By becoming a human, she wins him over by making a deal with a sea witch named Ursula.
On May 26, 2023, The Little Mermaid will be released in theaters.