The Little Mermaid is returning to the big screen and Disney fans, to put it mildly, are just thrilled. Making matters even more exciting, Disney recently announced that it had found its new Ariel, so you may be wondering who exactly is Halle Bailey, the 19-year-old musician and actor who will soon be BFFs with Flounder and Sebastian.
While the announcement that Bailey had landed the incredible role certainly excited fans, unfortunately, not everyone was pleased. Some critics felt Halle wasn't the right choice for the role because of writer Hans Christian Andersen's Nordic roots, according to The Root, and wasted no time making it known on social media. Over the weekend, "#NotMyAriel" was trending on social media with naysayers suggesting it wasn't true to the story to have a woman of color portray Ariel.
Fortunately, Bailey's had plenty of support from fans and celebrities, however, including Jodi Benson who voiced the original Ariel, according to Entertainment Weekly, saying: "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."
And Disney's Freeform also clapped back at the criticism in a lengthy and perfect Instagram post addressed to "the Poor, Unfortunate Souls," writing in part:
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 wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy). But for the sake of argument, let's say that Ariel, too, is Danish. Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black... So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she "doesn't look like the cartoon one," oh boy, do I have some news for you...about you," Freeform said in its statement.
As for Bailey, after news broke, she simply posted an image of Ariel on Instagram with the caption: "dream come true..."
Beyond all of the criticism and the response to the criticism, it's clear that Bailey is a talented actress and will undoubtedly wow Disney fans with her take on Ariel. But before that happens, let's get to know the rising star a bit better with these interesting and fun facts.
1. She's One-Half The Singing Duo Chloe x Halle
You may recognize Bailey as one half of the singing duo Chloe x Halle, which she founded with her older sister. According to Cheatsheet, the pair first came into real, next-level success when they released their cover of Beyonce's "Pretty Hurts" to much acclaim online and elsewhere. They even caught they eye of Queen Bey herself; according to Hollywood Life, they were even invited to open for Beyonce twice — once during The Formation World Tour and again during the United States portion of the On the Run Tour II.
2. She & Her Sister Were Nominated For Two Grammy Awards
After getting Beyonce's stamp of approval, Halle and her sister's stars continued to rise. According to The Fader, the pair were nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2019 including "Best New Artist." They did not win, but garnered even more recognition as a result.
3. She's Acted Before
In addition to singing and performing together, sibling duo Chloe x Halle have also done some acting. Halle and her sister appeared in ABC's Black-ishspinoff, Grown-ish, according to CinemaBlend. Halle and her sister also penned the song "Grown," which serves as the Grown-ish theme song, according to Refinery 29.
4. She & Her Sister Play Twins On TV, But Halle's Actually Younger
Halle and her sister look a lot alike. So much so that they play twins on TV, but according to Hollywood Life, they actually have a bit of an age difference. Halle was born in 2000, and is 19, while Chloe was born in 1998 and is 21.
5. She Made Her On-Screen Debut Alongside Queen Latifah
Grown-ish isn't the first show Halle's appeared in; her IMDb page reveals that she first made her big screen debut in 2006. The actress played Tina in Last Holiday, which also starred Queen Latifah. According to her IMDb page, she also appeared in Austin & Ally and House of Payne.
Halle Bailey hasn't said much about her casting, beyond calling it a "dream come true" on Instagram, but her playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid is undoubtedly going to mean so much to so many little girls around the world.