Halle Bailey causes a splash of controversy over casting in ‘The Little Mermaid’


Disney Press kit

The Little Mermaid releasing May 26. 2023

Claire Delgado & Rory Hermosillo, Staff Writer

The live action “The Little Mermaid”, set to release May 26. 2023, has created a flood of controversy regarding the casting of “Ariel,” who will be played by Halle Bailey, an African American woman. Fans of the original 1989 “The Little Mermaid” movie had quickly subjected Halle Bailey with racial comments for her playing the role of Ariel, a fictional mermaid who was originally cast white in the first movie.

“I just think it is just one of the movements that is going on right now that helps people, minorities, or people of color connect with the world in general,”  Black Student Union Advisor, Marcia Amegadize said, “That ‘Hey look at me, I’m here.’ And then younger kids of color are able to relate to the characters, the leading characters.”

Halle Bailey is usually seen alongside her sister Chloe Bailey, as the two would sing and act together in various productions such as “Black-ish” and “Chloe x Halle: Ungodly Hour”. Being casted in The Little Mermaid was a large step for Halle Bailey and her individual career without her sister.

“I am just pinching myself, seeing myself play a character I have loved for so long and I am putting my own twist on it,” Halle Bailey said in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes. “I get to  represent all of these young black and brown boys and girls [which] is really special to me. I know if I had [that] when I was younger, it would have changed my whole perspective.”

 Though this change has caused many fans to racially comment on the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel, original voice actress Jodi Benson has been vocal about her support of Halle Bailey taking on the role.

“Let’s face it, I am really, really old. And when I am singing ‘Part of Your World’ [and] if you were to judge me by the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way you interpret the song,” Benson said in a Florida convention interview. “But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel.”

She deserved that part and the color of her skin should have nothing to do with her being cast

— sophomore Carly Classen

Despite the controversy the role has opened more doors, not only for Halle Bailey but for other black female actresses. The film industry does not have much diversity, the OscarsSoWhite hashtag has showcased this. The hashtag trended from 2015 to 2016, used to protest the 20 acting nominations for the Academy Awards going to only white actors. The lack of diversity does not end there, people of color tend to have a more difficult time raising funds for films and are most likely to make a film while getting 20 million dollars less than white men.

But, the film industry has become more inclusive since the report and ethnic minorities were petitioned in one of the main actors and total cast categories. Eight of all 10 films each would have a cast that would include people of color, which would make up to 30 percent  or more. Also including a very well known movie named “Bad Boys For Life” which had Will Smith which was about 50 percent. 

Disney especially has become more diverse in their films, casting Yara Shahidi, who is of African-American and Choctaw heritage, as Tinker Bell in the upcoming 2023 Peter Pan and Wendy. 2021 Cruella had Anita Darling, a previously shown white character, casted as Kirby Howell-Baptiste, a black British actress.