Halle Bailey Said She "Expected" the Racist Comments After Being Cast as Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid'

"As a Black person, you just expect it."

Halle Bailey Said She “Expected” the Racist Comments After Being Cast as Ariel in ‘The Little Mermaid

Disney Enterprises, Inc.

When Disney announced that it would be working on a live-action remake of its classic animated film, The Little Mermaid, fans seemed to applaud the company's continued efforts to create new versions of its most beloved releases. But when the entertainment giant shared that Halle Bailey would play the titular mermaid, Ariel, some people weren't happy with the fact that a Black actress would be taking on the role.

Bailey said that she expected that reaction all along, knowing that as a Black entertainer, she would face challenges like racism as she navigated her career. Thankfully, she had some advice from none other than Beyoncé, and she noted that attendees at D23, Disney's convention for die-hard fans, celebrated alongside her.

"As a Black person, you just expect it and it's not really a shock anymore," Bailey said in a new interview with The Face. ​"When [Chlöe and I] first signed to Parkwood, [Beyoncé] was always like: ​'I never read my comments. Don't ever read the comments.' Honestly, when the teaser came out, I was at the D23 Expo and I was so happy. I didn't see any of the negativity."

Disney Little Mermaid Halle Bailey

Disney Enterprises, Inc.

"I know people are like: ​'It's not about race.' But now that I'm her… People don't understand that when you're Black there's this whole other community," Bailey continued. "It's so important for us to see ourselves."

Even though there was a contingent of critics, Bailey said that as certain reaction videos went viral online, she saw that the casting meant a lot to Black children and that support meant the world to her.

"I was crying all night for two days, just staring at them in disbelief," the actress said of seeing the clips. ​"It makes me feel more grateful for where I am."

Director Rob Marshall told Entertainment Weekly that he saw Ariel as "a very modern woman, someone who sees her life differently than anyone around her, and goes to find that dream." He went on to say that there was "no agenda" to casting Ariel in his remake.

"We just were looking for the best actor for the role, period. The end," he said. "We saw everybody and every ethnicity."

"With Rob, he's so amazing and just saying, 'I see you and I want to bring you into the character,'" Bailey said during an interview at D23 in 2022. "So, it was a beautiful thing. My hair, for example — incorporating my locs into the red hair was something that was really special to me. The outfit, the fins, everything. It's just amazing. I'm just grateful that I've been able to take the essence of me and mix the two."

The Little Mermaid arrives in theaters on May 26.

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