The casting of singer Halle Bailey for the role of Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action reboot of “The Little Mermaid.” has been both celebrated and slammed by folks who believe mermaids can’t be black.
Racist Disney fans are blasting the decision to cast Halle as the first black Ariel. Facebook even removed a ‘Make America White Again’ group after sharing offensive memes related to Bailey playing the fictional mermaid.
Disney owned Freeform, the network that’s home to Bailey’s series “Grown-ish,” recently chimed in to address those who are big mad that the actress doesn’t look like the cartoon version from the original animated film that came out three decades ago.
In an open letter posted Sunday after haters on Twitter used the hashtag #NotMyAriel to object to a black woman portraying a red-headed Danish mermaid, the network said in an post on Instagram. “Danish mermaids can be black because Danish (asterisk)people(asterisk) can be black.”
Freeform also noted that Bailey was cast as Ariel because she is “highly talented,” and director Rob Marshall agrees.
“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,” Marshall said in a statement. Production on the film is anticipated to begin in early 2020.
Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in the 1989 animated film “The Little Mermaid,” spoke in defense of Bailey during her appearance at Florida Supercon on Saturday.
“The most important thing is to tell the story. And we have, as a family, we have raised our children, and for ourselves, that we don’t see anything that’s different on the outside,” Benson said, per Comic Book.
Read Freeform’s full IG post below.