Halle Bailey’s rendition of Ariel is finally a part of our world.
The “Grown-ish” actor decided to celebrate the wrapping of Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid” by posting a teasy, silhouetted image of herself as Ariel — fins and all — on Instagram Monday.
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Bailey talks in the post’s caption about being involved in the film from ages 18 to 21 and the challenges of working on the movie during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel so grateful to have experienced this film in all of its glory,” she wrote. “It has been the toughest experience being away from everything and everyone i’ve ever known, to feeling self doubt/ loneliness, but also feeling such freedom and perseverance as i’ve reached the end.”
Bailey’s casting as Ariel was announced in 2019. And although many fans were excited about a Black woman tackling the role of the beloved mermaid, Bailey experienced an onslaught of racism as well.
Some fans illogically pointed to the fact that Ariel was a white redhead in Disney’s 1989 animated film, even though the story is a fantasy to begin with. Others felt emboldened to criticize Bailey’s casting because the original telling of “The Little Mermaid” (or “Den lille Havfrue”) was written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, and a bronze statue inspired by the fairy tale stands in Copenhagen.
The hashtag #NotMyAriel even trended on Twitter as people decried Bailey’s casting.
Despite the hate, Bailey responded to the criticism with the poise of a Disney princess.
“I feel like I’m dreaming, and I’m just grateful,” she said in 2019 when her casting was first announced. “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.”
The Chloe x Halle singer also noted in her Instagram post Monday that the experience made her “stronger” and that she felt enormous pride in the project.
“I cannot wait for time to speed up so you all can watch this film because it was made with so much love (plus blood sweat and tears),” she wrote.
She also gave special shoutouts to some of her co-stars like Jonah Hauer-King, who plays Ariel’s romantic interest, Prince Eric, and Jacob Tremblay, who voices Flounder. Bailey told Tremblay that she was “so proud” of him, and said that Hauer-King would “be my friend for infinite lifetimes.”
She also thanked her bigger-name co-stars like Awkwafina (Scuttle), Melissa McCarthy (Ursula), Javier Bardem (King Triton) and Daveed Diggs (Sebastian) for being “welcoming and open to little old me.”
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