Halle Bailey to play Ariel in live-action The Little Mermaid

R&B singer Halle Bailey cast as the live-action Ariel. Image Courtesy: Instagram.com/Walt Disney Studios CanadaDisney’s next planned live-action reimagining, The Little Mermaid, has found its Ariel in singer Halle Bailey. The house of mouse has found tremendous success for most of its live-action reimaginings beginning with 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, and with recent hits in Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Junglebook, Aladdin and this summer’s The Lion King. It was only a matter of time until Disney tabbed The Little Mermaid for the same treatment.

The animated film, which kicked off Disney’s animation renaissance in the late 80s and early 90s, has ramped up its casting efforts with last week’s reported news of Disney discussing the role of film antagonist Ursula with Oscar-nominated actress Melissa McCarthy. The film had also recently added Room‘s Jacob Tremblay and Crazy Rich Asian‘s Awkwafina to the cast as Flounder and Scuttle respectively.

Much like with Disney’s other reimaginings, this new version of The Little Mermaid will look to modernize the classic fairy tale and update it with fixes for more contemporary audiences by tweaking elements that may not have aged well over the years.

As for the casting of Ariel, early on in the film’s production it was rumored that Disney would turn to one of its former Disney Channel stars in Zendaya for the role, but they ultimately settled on relative newcomer Halle Bailey. The R&B singer will be making her feature film debut in the role, but has recently appeared in a supporting role on the hit ABC sitcom Black-ish. The singer took to her twitter account to celebrate her casting and excitement for the role.

News of Bailey’s casting set off a flurry of reactions from the obvious negative reception calling forth criticisms of “race bending,” to more supportive tones from fellow actresses in Zendaya, Candice Patton, and Halle Berry. Zendaya herself faced similar negative backlash in her casting as “MJ” in the rebooted Spider-Man franchise as she took on the role of Mary Jane, but has since endeared herself to audiences with her take as the leading lady and love interest of Peter Parker.

Similarly, The Flash actress Candice Patton also showed her love and support for Bailey’s casting on Twitter, who expressed her joy and excitement at Hailey’s casting to celebrate the success of another young black actress. Coincidentally enough, like Zendaya and Halle Bailey, Candice herself took on the role of an iconic red head, in this case Iris West of DC’s Flash comic book series, for the CW’s live-action TV series adaptation. Dope actress Kiersey Clemons would later follow suit as well, playing Iris West in a deleted scene for Zack Snyder‘s Justice League.

Lastly, in good fun, actress Halle Berry celebrated Bailey’s casting as the internet hilariously mixed up the two women’s names believing that the John Wick 3 star had been cast as Ariel. Taking advantage of the mix-up Berry made sure to remind audiences that any casting of Halles will result in a positive outcome.

Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid currently has no tentative release date, but with most of the major casting filled out (with the exceptions of King Triton, Prince Eric and Sebastian), it’s believed the film will be ready for a 2021 release. The film is set to be directed by Rob Marshall, who had directed Disney’s 2018 holiday hit Mary Poppins Returns, as well as tackling mermaids beforehand in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Steve • July 4, 2019 @ 4:43 PM

    She haaaaaaad to be black!
    Whatever.
    I hope it fails.

  2. Klara • July 5, 2019 @ 9:39 AM

    Wow, Steve, clearly racist. No one is asking you to watch it.

  3. Kevin • July 5, 2019 @ 9:42 AM

    I loved the little mermaid first movie I ever saw in the theatre. I love the the idea of making the characters more diverse but will we ever see another original movie from Disney. Don’t destroy classic animated movies for just a cash grab.

  4. Duuude • July 5, 2019 @ 4:27 PM

    …wow. It looks like we shouldn’t expect another “Disney” animated movie until November 2021. At least, y’know, not a NEW one. We’ve got Frozen 2 later this year.

  5. Steve • July 5, 2019 @ 6:29 PM

    Klara.

    Put a sock in it and mind your business.

    No one asked you.

  6. Lauralee • July 6, 2019 @ 11:44 PM

    I agree with you, Steve. I feel it’s too big a difference. If they ever decide to do a live action of the ‘Princess and the Frog’, which I like… but Hypothetically speaking, if they chose to re-cast the lead(s) as white instead of black that would have hollywood and liberals in an uproar, because they would consider that racist. Yet, it’s always ok and never racist when they do this repeatedly to lead white characters both in cartoons and movies etc. No, it doesn’t work like that – it goes both ways. I’m sure they would love it if a white actor was re-cast in a ‘Shaft’ re-boot, instead of an original black actor. I doubt that would go over well. I feel the original race they cast in the cartoon is the race they should continue in the film – period! Same goes for movies etc. You don’t get to change it because you want to, in order to favor another race over another – because now whose the racist, now who is discriminating against someone else?!

  7. Kiha • July 7, 2019 @ 8:38 AM

    Look this is coming from a black person they should not have a black Ariel it just doesn’t make sense I love my black people but this is not right

  8. Patty • July 7, 2019 @ 10:08 AM

    I dont care if she is black or not. People who are complaining about the casting and the color of her skin never got spanked when they were little.
    Some people should get over of too much over reacting about who is playing which character or doing what.
    I remember when Black Panther was released there were too much hatred comments because the actors were black.

    I am going to enjoying this movie when comes out.
    🙂

  9. Traci • July 7, 2019 @ 1:18 PM

    Listen whites have played everycolor if the rainbow black Indian, Asian, whatever was going, so what’s the problem with letting child see diversity in all aspects of life. An actor should be able to play whatever role they wish it is acting . Ever culture has versions of all fairy tales and all should finally be represented!!!! Don’t like it do watch it your loss!!!!

  10. mkabi • July 7, 2019 @ 3:36 PM

    I’m brown (Indian descent) so I’m cool with whatever… but my 4 year old whose been binge watching these Disney cartoons is already rejecting Halle Bailey as Ariel…

    How about making new original animated movies with diversity in mind??? So that when they remake it into live action – a decade or so into the future… they would accept it more??

    Also, given that intimacy is a hard topic to discuss with kids (especially 4 or 5 year olds) and LGBTQ community being under represented… leave it out altogether to avoid confusion in every community?

  11. Pat • July 7, 2019 @ 10:00 PM

    I totally agree with Traci. Also nobody knows how a real mermaid looks like it. Lol
    The one who are complaining with the color of the skin are….. ??
    Please dont teach the little ones to hatred people who are not white.
    Get over please.

  12. James B. • July 8, 2019 @ 2:40 PM

    Her facial features have me understanding why she may have been cast.

  13. Isaac • July 8, 2019 @ 4:51 PM

    lol, here we are arguing about someone’s skin colour, never change world.

  14. Char • July 8, 2019 @ 9:05 PM

    I thought the fictional character of the Little Mermaid was IN FACT FICTIONAL AND A MERMAID ??

  15. Snepts • July 10, 2019 @ 4:57 AM

    In the interest of promoting equality, the new Pink Panther will be green.

  16. Mel • August 1, 2019 @ 8:35 PM

    I grew up watching a light skinned red hair mermaid and would like to see that in live action. It just would not feel right that the mermaid would not look nothing like the original cartoon. It won’t feel original anymore and would not interest me to watch it. I am not white nor black to be considered racist. It’s like making Mulan another race it would not be right either. They should keep the cartoon movies original when making them live action. If you want some change make a different movie and cast the character in it. I’m greatful they at least kept Aladdin original.

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