Disney faced a wave of backlash when they announced Halle Bailey would be headed under the sea to star in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. But that wasn’t their only controversial casting decision!
19-year-old Grammy-nominated singer and actress Halle Bailey seems like a great choice to play Ariel. She’s got the pixie-like features of a classic Disney princess and tons of charisma.
Halle has had a starring on Grown-ish since 2018 and started a super-successful musical career with her sister as Chloe X Halle when they were preteens.
So what’s the problem? Well, according to a vocal group of fans on Twitter, Halle doesn’t look like Ariel. The hashtag #NotMyAriel started trending shortly after the news broke, with certain people arguing that a white actress should have been cast instead.
However, even more people have spoken out in favor of the casting, including famous folks like Nicki Minaj, Chrissy Teigen, Willow Smith, and Jordin Sparks.
Cable channel Freeform stepped up to defend the casting choice, patiently explaining that even if you wanted to argue that the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen means that Ariel should be from Denmark, that still doesn’t mean the fictional fish-lady has to be white.
Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black,” read the tweet from Freeform’s official account.
Fans are also unhappy with the reported top pick to play Ursula. Melissa McCarthy is in talks for the role–but can she pull off the menace and drag-inspired campiness of everyone’s favorite sea witch?
The original design of Ursula for the 1989 animated classic was inspired by drag queen (and John Waters muse) Divine. A vocal fanbase hoped that Disney might cast a drag queen in the live-action role. Barring that, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Tituss Burgess was a popular choice–especially because he has the pipes and the drama to bring it as Ursula.
Another popular fan choice? Rising star Lizzo, whose talent, swagger, and body positive attitude seems like a perfect fit for the diva villain. Her supporters include Broadway powerhouse Cynthia Erivo, who tweeted “There’s really no excuse” not to cast Lizzo in the role.
Now that Ariel has been cast as an actress of color, Terry Crews has thrown his name out as an ideal choice to play her dear old dad. He tweeted a picture of himself Photoshopped into the original animated classic, showcasing his famous pecs.
The 50-year-old Brooklyn Nine-Nine star has the mixture of humor and toughness to pull off the role of a doting, overprotective father. Honestly, we love this idea. Get on it, Disney!
Other confirmed cast members include Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina, with new songs from original composer Alan Menken and Little Mermaid superfan Lin-Manuel Miranda. Could Miranda end up voicing Sebastian? Stay tuned for more Disney news the moment we find out!