Disney is coming up with live-action movies, and the recent talk of the town is The Little Mermaid. The movie starring Halle Bailey as the lead is dropping soon in theaters. However, it has already been surrounded by controversies. Since the release of the first trailer, it has been criticized by the audience for everything from VFX to the adaptation of characters like Flounder, from animation to live-action.
Bailey being a black actress cast in the classic live-action has aroused disappointment in people. During the film’s recent invited-only premiere in Hollywood, California, Jodi Benson, graced the red carpet. She voiced the character Ariel in the original animated version, released by Disney in 1989. As the original Ariel’s voice, Benson expressed kind words for Bailey’s portrayal of the iconic character.
Jodi Benson supports Halle Bailey’s performance in The Little Mermaid
With The Little Mermaid approaching theaters, it had an invited-only premiere in Hollywood, California. Jodi Benson, the original voice cast of the 1989 film, was present for the event. With the rising controversies over the casting of Halle Bailey, a dark actress as a Disney princess, Benson put in some kind words in support of the actress.
While talking to Entertainment Tonight, she said,
“She’s brilliant. I love that she has a purity of heart and a pure spirit. You can see that vulnerability, bravery, and that courage coming through, and it’s beautiful. I’m so thrilled for her, and I’m so proud of her.”
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) May 9, 2023
The voice artist also called Bailey’s “ideal choice” to take over as Ariel for the live-action remake. Former Disney princesses other than Benson also supported Bailey. The 23-year singer’s performance was also commended by actress Anika Noni Rose, who provided the voice of Tiana in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. Rose said, “She has a kind spirit, and I don’t think that’s gonna change.” With these positive reviews, Disney’s pick of the singer was a perfect choice.
Halle Bailey hopes to inspire through The Little Mermaid
Since the release of the first trailer, the live-action movie has received numerous criticism, especially casting Bailey as the lead. The movie, directed by Rob Marshall and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, includes a star-stunned cast. Marshall made a significant move in Hollywood, by casting as a Black actress to play a Disney princess.
As the movie approaches in theaters, the 23-year actress expressed how much it meant to her to be able to portray Ariel and serve as an example for other young women of color. She said,
“The fact that I’m able to be a Black Little Mermaid, I’m honored. I’m excited for all the little Black girls to see it and be inspired.”
Bailey’s performance and the overall enthusiasm for the movie have demonstrated that fans are prepared for greater varied representation in Hollywood, despite the initial pushback.
The Little Mermaid swims into theaters on May 26, 2023.