Freeform Defends Halle Bailey's "Inspired" Casting in 'The Little Mermaid'
While many people praised Halle Bailey's casting as Ariel in Disney's upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, others were not happy that a black actress had been chosen to play the role.
Some social media users even began using the hashtag #NotMyAriel to express their displeasure with the casting news, which was announced on Wednesday.
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Following criticism of the casting, Disney-owned cable network Freeform issued a statement on Instagram on Sunday to defend Bailey playing Ariel. The actress currently stars as Skylar on the network's series Grown-ish.
The network's Instagram account shared a text post that was captioned, "An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls." The post included the hashtags #TheLittleMermaid, #Ariel and #MyAriel.
"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)," Freeform's post read. "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. Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight," the text post continued. "Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair."
The network then reminded its followers that The Little Mermaid is a work of fiction and not based on a real person.
"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," the post concluded.
Rob Marshall, who recently helmed the studio's Mary Poppins Returns, is set to direct the film. Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina are in talks to star and lend their voices to other live-action and CG parts.
"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,” Marshall said in a statement about Bailey's casting.
Read Freeform's full statement below.
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