I really wouldn't want to be the person in charge of casting Disney princesses now that the studio is doing all of those live-action versions of the animated movies. The pressure to deliver must be enormous, especially since millions of kids all over the world are deeply, emotionally attached to these icons. They have a picture in their mind of who they want to see and disappointing them would be... well, it's not a job for the feint of heart. Fortunately the actress cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid reboot looks like she's going to be ticking a whole bunch of boxes for little girls and not just because so many of them probably already know a little about her.
On Wednesday The Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall announced that after months of searching, the team had finally found the actress they wanted to play Ariel. Halle Bailey, the young actress and singer best known as half of the R&B sister duo Chloe x Halle, has been slated to play the iconic princess from under the sea who falls in love with a prince from the shore. Marshall told Variety in a 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."
Bailey joins fellow cast members Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina to play Ariel, and Disney Studios has assured fans that "additional announcements regarding The Little Mermaid are expected in the coming weeks," as per E! News. The young singer shared her own reaction to finding out she had landed the role with a simple message on social media that read "dream come true" and a picture of the animated version of Ariel re-imagined as a brunette with darker skin.
The reaction to Bailey's new role has been overwhelmingly positive, with stars like Chrissy Teigen taking to the singer's Instagram feed to share her congratulations and excitement that her own daughter, 3-year-old Luna Legend, will get a chance to see a "piece of her" in the new princess.
My little toons is gonna see a piece of her in her favorite Disney princess. I cannot wait!!!
Former American Idol singer Jordin Sparks agreed that this new version of Ariel played by Bailey was cause for celebration, writing on her wall:
OMG I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU! And for all the little brown girls who will now see themselves as Ariel too!
Oscar award-winning actress Halle Berry took to Twitter to offer her congratulations, as did Hamilton's Lin Manuel Miranda, who is slated to write new songs for the upcoming Little Mermaid reboot.
Of course there were some poor, unfortunate souls who were unhappy on social media that Bailey was playing Ariel since she's not a redhead, but I'm sure they'll get over it. Mostly because they'll have to.
While there is clearly no release date for the new film, at least fans now have a better idea of what to expect with the new, live-action version of The Little Mermaid.
I can't wait to be part of their world.