Halle Bailey is breaking her silence on the racist reaction she got from some quarters after being tapped to star in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Bailey keeps her cool, telling Variety: “I feel like I'm dreaming and I'm just grateful and I don't pay attention to the negativity. I just feel like this role was something bigger than me and greater and it's going to be beautiful. I'm just so excited to be a part of it.”
While most fans rejoiced at her casting, others trolled the move on social media. The problem blew up to such a degree, Sierra Boggess, who originated the role of Ariel in Broadway’s adaptation, Jodi Benson, the voice of the O.G. cartoon and Disney‘s Freeform itself defended the move.
“Alright, I'm tired of this, listen again,” Boggess tweeted at the time. ” 'Bright young women, sick of swimmin,' ready to stand…' I hear this being the cry of EVERY little girl, don't you?”
Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall also came out swinging for her, saying: “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.”
“I think the most important thing is to tell the story,” Benson told fans at pop culture convention Florida Supercon in July. “We have, as a family, raised our children and for ourselves that we don't see anything that's different on the outside. I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart and their spirit is what really counts.”
Bailey also kept it buttoned up about who else was in the cast, telling ET that Idris Elba would be “awesome” as King Triton, but opting not confirm or deny rumors that he was cast. And Harry Styles, rumored to be set as Prince Eric?
“Oh, I don't mind,” she told the outlet. “I think anyone would be great for it.”