SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 16: Recording artists Halle Bailey (L) and Chloe Bailey of musical group Chloe X Halle perform onstage during the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for MTV)
Halle Bailey has been cast as Ariel for Disney’s live action version of The Little Mermaid. Rob Marshall, director of said movie (also director of Into The Woods and Mary Poppins Returns) released a statement of why Bailey was chosen. His statement, via an article from Screenrant, lauds Bailey as perfect for the role: “After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance – plus a glorious singing voice – all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role”. This will be Bailey’s debut role in a feature film, being known for her work as part of singing group Chloe x Halle with her sister and TV show Grown-ish.
The response to her casting has generally been positive, especially at the boldness of Disney for making such a diverse, maybe slightly controversial choice. There are the few dissenters who oppose the decision, given that Bailey does not look like the Ariel from the animated version, who is fair skinned with red hair. However, they can always give her red hair for the movie, since that is Ariel’s distinctive feature. And mermaids are mythical, so no one can really say for sure how they look like, which makes this choice different from Mulan; Mulan would need an Asian actress due to the cultural roots embedded in the movie.
As always, it is counter-productive to get upset about casting decisions when the movie has yet to be out in the world. A live action movie completely authentic to the original animated version would really defeat the purpose of having an adaptation in the first place. Cinderella was probably the most by the book. Beauty and the Beast insinuated LeFou’s sexuality and Aladdin made Jasmine a Sultan. There is no stopping the Disney live action remake train, so its best to just strap in and enjoy the ride.