Here’s why we’re looking forward to “The Little Mermaid” Reboot
Disney’s been known for fumbling a couple of their live-action adaptations, from the scandalous Mulan (2020) to the casting of Aladdin (2019). But with The Little Mermaid, it seems like this one’s shaping up to be different in the best way possible. The project was initially announced to be in early development in 2016, only revealing its cast a few years down the line. After many internet debates and hunches, Disney announced that Halle Bailey will star as the iconic Disney princess from under the sea.
The first-look trailer dropped last weekend at the D23 Expo 2022, an event where the biggest fans gather together to celebrate the pillar in modern pop culture. TL;DR: it’s like San Diego Comic Con but for Disney titles only. The short clip gives the world a glimpse of this Ariel’s world, from the wondrous ocean to a dark shipwreck she might explore for new thingamabobs. (Because she’s got plenty!) And finally, we see Halle Bailey rocking Ariel’s purple-shelled bra and green mermaid tail while singing a line off Part of Your World.
But of course, Halle’s casting as Ariel didn’t come without any major buzz. Because while a large crowd rejoiced for the young actress, some didn’t hide their dismay for Disney to cast an actress “who doesn’t look like Ariel.” The atmosphere surrounding Halle Bailey as Ariel this time around was no different than when it was first announced in 2019, many still continue to voice their dismay. Sure, people are entitled to their own opinions, but here’s to hoping that they’re well-founded and not really… prejudiced. #IKYK.
If you need more convincing as to why Halle Bailey is perfect as the rebellious Disney Princess, scroll ahead.
She’s Got the Acting Chops
Halle Bailey also has some acting skills to show off. She currently stars as Skylar “Sky” Forster on Grown-ish as the twin to Chloe’s Jazz Forster. And while it’s easy to hang back amid such a huge cast, Halle knows how to stand out as Sky with her quick wit and sassy comebacks. Despite sharing some similarities with her twin, Sky had a stronger resolve and eventually went to Tokyo 2020—a reflection of Halle’s own pursuits. But, of course, a support role can only show her off some of her skills. At least with The Little Mermaid, we’ll get to see more of Halle take the lead.
She’s Got the Vocal Pipes
Halle Bailey makes up half of the iconic R&B duo Chole x Halle, a hat that she dons along with her sister. The two began uploading song covers on YouTube, before getting acknowledged by none other than Beyonce Knowles-Carter herself. Later on, they were signed by Parkwood Entertainment for a six-album deal. The duo, to this day, has two studio albums and earned five Grammy nominations for their work. If anything, the two have already proven themselves on paper.
But for skills, allow me to redirect you to a couple of required listening (and watching). Of course, listen to Chloe x Halle’s raw vocals in this short cover of Desiigner’s Timmy Turner or Beyonce’s Pretty Hurts. You can definitely hear Halle Bailey effortlessly harmonize with her sister’s vocals. Of course, Ariel should be able to hit those notes flawlessly. Her best asset, after all, is her enchanting voice. Still not convinced? Play her cover of Elton John’ Can You Feel The Love Tonight:
She Got The Role For #Reasons
Halle Bailey got the role fair and square. She ticked all the boxes the casting directors and the executives looked for in a modern-day Disney Princess. The Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall wrote in a statement in 2019 explaining the decision. He explains, “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.” And honestly, his faith in her is warranted.
Heck, even the OG Ariel, Jodi Benson, showed her support for the actress. The voice actress of Ariel from 1989 took to Instagram to shower Halle Bailey with nothing but praises. She writes, “Halle, you were absolutely amazing! I’m SO proud of you and your beautiful performance as Ariel.” Well, when the first Ariel gives her seal of approval, you best believe that her successor will do a great job.
Beyond that, having Halle Bailey as Ariel shows that change is happening in Hollywood. Growing up with fairytales, like The Little Mermaid, some of us pretty much resigned to the fact that Disney princesses look a certain way. At least now, little girls who get introduced to this story can see themselves in Halle’s equally moving iteration of Ariel. To borrow from the mermaid princess, isn’t it neat?
Halle Bailey ushers in a new kind of change we love to see with Ariel and The Little Mermaid. Here’s to hoping we get a new set of diverse Disney Princesses, both new and old, as the years go by.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid swims to theaters on May 2023.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver