Making Waves: The Impact of Halle Bailey’s Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Why Her Race Doesn’t Define Her Performance Friday 26 May, 2023

The Little Mermaid is coming to theaters just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, and it is causing quite a tsunami. Halle Bailey has been chosen to play the new mermaid, representing a reimagination of diversity and a personification of the Disney magic. This presents an opportunity for young girls, especially those of color, to have representation with a Disney princess who looks like them.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Despite being a children’s film, controversy has arisen because Ariel, the beloved character from the 1989 Disney Animated classic, is now portrayed as black.

Disney has been at the forefront of diversity and inclusivity in entertainment, starting with Brandy as the first black Disney princess with her role in Cinderella in 1998. Since then, Disney has continued to create diverse and culturally represented princesses, even introducing a new original black princess, Princess Tiana in Disney’s The Princess and The Frog.

Disney has also partnered with Marvel and released Black Panther, which has had a powerful impact on representation for black people and the African diaspora.

It’s truly disheartening to witness that some individuals are allowing fear to prevent them from fully immersing themselves in the enchanting world of Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid due to Halle Bailey as our new Ariel. Such a shallow approach to this cinematic masterpiece robs them of the opportunity to experience its true magic beyond skin-deep.

Halle Bailey was perfectly cast as Ariel, but unfortunately, some people are unhappy about her casting solely due to her race. However, this does not stop her powerhouse performance.

Halle’s portrayal of Ariel is flawless, with her red golden natural locs and innocent doe eyes, personifying a curious teen of the sea who wants nothing more than to be part of the human world. Her rendition of “Part of Your World” is Oscar-worthy, and her soulful voice brings tears to the eyes of anyone who remembers the original film.

Her captivating voice is what truly makes her a siren. It’s guaranteed her singing in the film will now launch her into superstardom! The world has been waiting for the next big “voice”! While Ariel may be a fictional character, Halle Bailey’s real-life talent as a singer is undeniable. Her breathtaking voice in The Little Mermaid is just a hint of what’s to come. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this rising star – a solo album, soon?

The film’s other songs, including “Under the Sea,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and “Kiss the Girl,” evoke nostalgia and will have fans singing along as well.

Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Ursula is phenomenal, adding an underlying tone of empathy as she is now portrayed as the outcasted sister to King Triton. She perfectly personifies the character and brings her to life, making Ursula a phenomenal sea creature.

Despite the focus on Halle Bailey’s casting, the entire cast of the film has been given a diversity reset, including King Triton and Ariel’s sisters, each representing a different race and culture. It is surprising that this has not caused more uproar.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I can’t help but keep boasting about how Halle Bailey is the perfect princess both on and off the screen. As Ariel, she flawlessly embodied the character, bringing her to life with an incredible mix of innocence and grace.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 08: Halle Bailey attends the World Premiere of Disney’s live-action feature “The Little Mermaid” at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California on May 08, 2023. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

But it’s not just on the screen where Halle shines. As herself, she is quickly becoming a superstar in her own right, gracing the “blue carpets” and premieres of the film with a true princess-like spirit.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 15: Halle Bailey with young fans at the UK Premiere of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” on May 15, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images for Disney)

She is the role model this new generation needs, inspiring children of all races, especially those who look up to her and see themselves in her. Everywhere you look, from Halle Bailey dolls to clothing and accessories, there’s a beautiful representation of this new melanated mermaid, and the impact it will have on children is immeasurable.

It’s absurd that some adults are resistant to this new representation of a beloved character, as children rarely see color and just connect to a character’s personality. It’s time for people to let go of their limited beliefs and ideology and embrace Halle Bailey’s Ariel, just as we did with the vibrant red-headed Ariel of the past.

It’s important to acknowledge that black mermaids aren’t a new idea, they’re just new to the realm of cinema. Moreover, it’s worth noting that African Spirituality recognizes mermaids as real deities, and this is not the first time a black mermaid has been celebrated. For those skeptical of a melanated mermaid, take a moment to research the mermaid deities of Yemeya, Oshun, and Mami Wata. Black mermaid goddesses have been part of religious and cultural stories for centuries, and who’s to say Disney didn’t do their research and know that casting Halle Bailey as Ariel would only add another layer of depth to this beloved character?

Also, Mermaids are considered real in much of the Caribbean folklore, with both positive and negative stories shared about them. It’s advised not to be lured into the sea by a “siren” seduction. Disney may be aware of these tales, which could explain why Sebastian has a Caribbean accent.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – MAY 11: Halle Bayle attends during the red carpet of the Premiere of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at Parque Toreo on May 11, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images For Disney)

The Little Mermaid was a stunning film that should be appreciated beyond surface-level details. Everyone can delight in this movie regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, age, or culture, as inclusivity is a crucial aspect of the Disney magic. It is a movie that can evoke the child-like spirit in anyone, so go watch it in the theater and relive your childhood or bring your kids along to create new memories.

The Little Mermaid is Making a Huge Splash in Theaters May 26th

About the Blogger - Kiwi the Beauty

Kiwi is the free spirited blogger and content creator of As a digital influencer, she produces creative inspiration around beauty, lifestyle, media and travel leisure. Her life mantra is to make manifesting fun! When she’s not blogging, she is eating trendy hipster food, carrying crystals, making it rain at her local farmer's market and binge brunching. Follow her on her blog and social media at + @kiwithebeauty

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