It was first announced that Halle Bailey, who is known for being one half of the popular musical duo Chloe x Halle, would playing the iconic mermaid Ariel in the live-action remake of Little Mermaid back in 2019 and many Disney fans were understandably excited about seeing themselves represented on screen, however she also faced backlash from others who opposed casting a Black woman as a White fictional character, with #NotMyAriel trending on Twitter.
This week, Disney released a powerful trailer showing a teaser of Halle’s version of the song ‘Part Of Your World’ from the iconic film, and it appears to be having the impact Halle hoped for, particularly amongst young Black girls, with over 100 million global views and resulting in heart-warming & emotional reaction videos appearing all over social media.
The footage shows young Black girls excited and sometimes emotional, to see themselves represented by Halle, as Ariel, one of the all-time classic Disney princesses.
One video posted on TikTok, captioned ‘That’s why representation matters! We can’t wait to watch this ❤️’ shows Rylie, 2, lighting up with joy and gasping “wow” when she glimpses Halle on the screen and turning to her 4-year-old sister, McKenzie, who is also mesmerised by the clip.
In another video, three sisters, Ke’iona, Lai’anna, and Ea’iona Shanks, who are 7, 6, and 2 can be seen watching the trailer with excitement. “She’s Black? Yay!” Ke’iona says joyfully. “Mama, she’s Black,” another girl says.
In an interview with Variety earlier this year, the actor and singer addressed the racism she experienced after being cast for the role, and the support she received after, along with the importance of the role. She said:
It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you…I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special and that they should be a princess in every single way…Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us.
The film is directed by Rob Marshall and stars Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Art Malik, Noma Dumezweni, Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy, with Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina in voice roles and is due for release across the US on 26 May 2023.