Halle Bailey Reacts to 'The Little Mermaid' Race Backlash
Disney fans are anticipating the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, which is slated for release on May 26. Singer Halle Bailey is making her feature film debut as Ariel, and while it's been a monumental moment for a Black woman to play the role, not everyone has been welcoming. Amid the first teaser being released online last Fall, the backlash was swift, with many complaining Bailey doesn't resemble the animated character, and others questioning why the movie is even needed. For many, it was clear the complaints were rooted in racism. But the Grown-ish star is ignoring the chatter. "As a Black person, you just expect it, and it's not really a shock anymore," she said in her cover interview for The Face. "I know people are like, 'It's not about race.' But now that I'm her … People don't understand that when you're Black there's this whole other community. It's so important for us to see ourselves."
In fact, she's taking the advice of her mentor, Beyoncé, whom she affectionately calls "B", for getting her through the criticism. "When [Chlöe and I] first signed to Parkwood, B was always like, 'I never read my comments. Don't ever read the comments,'" she explained, adding, "Honestly, when the teaser came out, I was at the D23 Expo, and I was so happy. I didn't see any of the negativity."
Last year, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Bailey, and she dished on the best part of filming the project, noting its impact on her. "The fact that I get to represent all of these little young Black and brown boys and girls who are to come is really special to me because I know that if I had that when I was younger, it would have changed my whole perspective on life," she said at the time.
Bailey has a busy year. In addition to The Little Mermaid, she is starring in Blitz Bazawule's reimagined version of The Color People, which also stars Tamela Mann, Deon Cole, Coleman Domingo, and Fantasia. The film will be released on Dec. 20.
She's also putting the finishing touches on her first solo album. In the meantime, she's busy promoting this Disney legacy.