Onlyaisa, a member of my doll group, created the above photo collage which includes several redheaded loc-wearing women flanked around a large center photo of singer/actress Halle Bailey. Halle is better known by most as one-half of the singing sister duo Chloe x Halle with Halle being the younger of the two talented singers. They became an Internet sensation a few years back prior to being signed by Beyoncé's management company. Both sisters star in the Freeform sit-com grown-ish, a spin-off of ABC's black-ish.
OnlyAlisa's inspiration for the photo collage was Disney's announcement this week of their decision to cast Halle as Ariel in the live-action musical production of The Little Mermaid. Most people are excited for Halle and applaud Disney for thinking outside the box. Disney, like many others, realize that a fictional character, such as a singing mermaid, can be represented in live-action (and in animation) by anyone with the necessary talent, as indicated by Rob Marshall, the producer, who made the following statement.
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. [https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/disney-finds-little-mermaid-star-singer-halle-bailey-1220951]
Listen to Halle's glorious singing voice in the following YouTube video where she sings "Unforgettable."
Several Internet users have drawn illustrations of Halle as Ariel. Twitter user, @BossLogic has imagined Bailey as Ariel to look like this. Another Twitter user, @AliceXZ illustrated Halle as Ariel like this. London-based artist, Hayden Williams, envisions Ariel like this. He wrote in a Facebook post,
#HalleBailey as #Ariel
As someone that grew up on the animated classics, I do prefer when the live action remakes stay true to the originals in many ways, however with TLM, I fully embrace Disney switching things up and casting a black girl to play Ariel. Yes, she had a distinctive look that we all remember, but Ariel’s race was never an integral part of the story. On top of that, she is a mythical creature, so she can be any race. Halle can sing amazingly and is beautiful! Sounds great to me & I am sure she will do a fab job. As long as the cast have amazing chemistry + the story and visuals are amazing, i’ll be happy. Please do share your opinions, but let’s be kind and respectful.
#TheLittleMermaid #Disney #Art
While Williams fully embraces Bailey as Ariel, unfortunately, there are others who feel slighted by Disney's Ariel selection and have voiced their great displeasure with online petitions and at least one known Facebook group (Make Ariel White Again) created in protest. (?!?)
To counter the petition against Bailey as Ariel, another petition, "Keep Halle Bailey as Ariel" has been started. (Links to these petitions and Facebook group are not shared here because Disney will do what Disney knows best.)
The original character's red hair does not engrave in stone that all future Ariel characters (animated or human) must be of European descent. By definition, "In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish." Any female human with the appropriate costume can, therefore, portray a mermaid.
In a country where children have been separated from their parents for extended periods with no hope of being reunited; placed in deplorable, crowded conditions in cages with inadequate food, water, and sanitation; with aluminum blankets for cover while they sleep on floors, and God only knows what other physical, mental, and sexual assaults they have and are still facing, for some, the concern over the complexion of a Disney fictional character seems more important.
I remain happy for Halle Bailey, applaud Disney for choosing the best person they felt could portray Ariel, and like Onlyalisa, look forward to seeing the manufacture of dolls and other merchandise to represent the new face of Ariel. I think red locs would be pretty cool, too.
Congratulations Ms. Bailey! I know your live-action portrayal of The Little Mermaid will rock!
Read more about Halle at the following links:
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