Halle Bailey Addresses the Racist Backlash She Received After Being Cast as Ariel in Live-Action “The Little Mermaid”

Halle Bailey is opening up about how family supported her during the racist backlash to her casting in the upcoming live-action Little Mermaid.

In a new interview with Variety, the 22-year-old singer/actress said that following the online hate she received, her grandparents shared their perspective having experiencing discrimination in their own lives.

“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’ ” Bailey said.

About representation, Bailey added how she thinks her younger self might have felt seeing the original animated version of Ariel depicted as a person of color: “What that would have done for me, how that would have changed my confidence, my belief in myself, everything. Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us.”

Disney announced that Halle would be taking on the role of Ariel back in July 2019. “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,” director Rob Marshall said in a statement at the time.

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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Alexandra Schonfeld