When it was announced last month that Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” a lot of people rushed to social media to voice their displeasure.
Soon after the hashtag #notmyariel surfaced, as well as a plethora of comments from people who said Disney ruined their childhood because they want Ariel to be white like in the 1989 film.
And not only is Bailey the first woman of color to play “The Little Mermaid” character on the big screen, she’s the first woman of color to star in a Disney live-action remake.
Bailey has remained silent about the backlash since being cast, but she addressed it for the first time during an interview with Variety.
In short, the 19-year-old said her silence doesn’t have to do with a particular strategy, it’s just she’s just been so happy about playing Ariel she hasn’t paid attention to the racists.
“I feel like I’m dreaming and I’m just grateful and I don’t pay attention to the negativity,” she told Variety on Tuesday at the Power of Young Hollywood event. “I just feel like this role was something bigger than me and greater. It’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”
It sounds like Bailey is doing exactly what Donald Glover thinks she should do in response to the negative chatter. Because last month the “Atlanta” star said he hopes she’s blocking it out and fully enjoying her moment.
“I thought that was so special,” Glover told E! News last month. “We were just watching that film and I’m like, that’s such a great story but I’m just like, I dunno, I just hope that she’s, like, having fun and don’t let anybody make you feel the opposite of how you want to feel. It’s a very special role and you earned it, so I hope you’re listening.”
In another part of Bailey’s interview, she talked about how challenging it is to take the big step into film without her sister Chloe, whom she sings with in their group Chloe x Halle.
“It is definitely a little bit nerve-wracking because I am the little sister,” she explained. “I am so used to [us] always going through these challenging moments in our career together, [but] I am beginning to understand that this film is so much bigger than me.”