Disney revealed last week that they have officially found their Ariel for the upcoming live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid” – Halle Bailey. The musician, actress and one half of the singing sister group duo Chloe x Halle was cast in the iconic role for the remake of the 1989 animated classic. Now Jodi Benson, the voice behind Ariel in the 1989 film, has responded to objections to Halle playing the role.
Comicbook.com reports that Jodi stated at Florida’s Supercon over the weekend, “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. 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.”
She went on to say, “We need to be storytellers. And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story.”
While Halle's casting was met with support by stars from Zendaya to Mariah Carey to Halle Berry (yes, their names are very similar), critics of the casting choice also emerged, even launching hashtags like #NotMyAriel.
Halle is a member of the “Grown-ish” cast, and the network behind the show, Freeform, also clapped back at racist backlash that says the move deviates from the source material. A part of Freeform's “open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls” read, “Yes. The original author of ‘The Little Mermaid’ was Danish. Ariel…is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim whenever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute paddy). But for the sake of the argument, let’s say that Ariel, too, is Danish. Danish mermaids can be black because Danish people can be black.”
When Halle appeared on “The Real” in October, she opened up about her career and what Beyoncé (who Chloe x Halle opened for on the On the Run II tour) taught her and her sister: “Let the world catch up to you, don’t dumb down yourself for the world.”