Halle Bailey reveals she expected the racist backlash for being cast in ‘The Little Mermaid’

She also reveals Beyoncé’s sage advice to help her navigate the negativity
February 24, 2023 12:00 a.m. EST

On May 26, Disney’s live action remake of The Little Mermaid, starring Grammy-nominated crooner Halle Bailey as Ariel, will finally hit the silver screen. It is a huge undertaking to transform the 1989 classic into something fresh, updating it with new ideals, and new songs (there will be four new tunes!)


Yet when Halle’s casting by legendary director Rob Marshall was announced in 2019, a racist backlash ensued on social media, with the hashtag #NotMyAriel trending on Twitter. Now, Halle reveals that she knew that might happen. 



“As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore,” she tells The Face in their latest issue. 


“I know people are like: ​‘It’s not about race.’ But now that I’m her…” she explains to the outlet. ​“People don’t understand that when you’re Black there’s this whole other community. It’s so important for us to see ourselves.”



The singer, who is signed along with her sister/bandmate Chloe to Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment label, also revealed the sage advice they received from the  “Lemonade” superstar.


“[Beyoncé] ​“was always like: ​‘I never read my comments. Don’t ever read the comments,’” she recounted.


This news comes on the heels of the teaser trailer for The Little Mermaid dropping on YouTube last week, but when it first premiered at the Disney fan event D23, there was no backlash at all.  


“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,” she says. 


Halle displays in the interview a heart full of compassion and understanding, expounding on why she understands why people might balk at her revamping their favourite Disney character. 


“When you’re doing a remake of anything, everyone’s gonna be like: ​‘Well, this isn’t how I liked it in the original,’” she says. This isn’t the only remake she’s involved in – she’s also starring in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical version of The Color Purple. 


 ​“That movie has meant so much to us in our community for so long. It was Whoopi Goldberg’s first big thing,” she admits. ​“I hope people like my versions [of the characters in The Color Purple and The Little Mermaid]. But at the same time, I’ll respect it if they don’t.”


This isn’t the first time she’s spoken about the racist backlash in truly the most gracious and kind manner. “I feel like I’m dreaming,” she said in 2019. “And I’m just grateful. I don’t pay attention to the negativity; I just feel like this role is something bigger than me. And it’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”



After The Little Mermaid and The Color Purple, there are big things in store for one-half of Chloe x Halle. Halle is also hard at work on her first solo-album, and she even held a private listening party for Beyoncé


Halle recalls, ​“She hadn’t heard anything with me on my own before, so it was a really big moment for me. She was just so proud, so complimentary. It’s a beautiful thing when a creative you look up to tells you that you’re doing a good job. It means the world.”


“I just want to continue to heal through my art. Each project I’ve done has taught me something about myself, has given me something to live off,” she concludes.


​“If somebody can take something away from whatever character I’m playing, that’s all that matters to me.”


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