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With news that Halle Bailey has nabbed the starring role in Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, many were left to wonder just who exactly the up-and-coming star is.
Though an “extensive search” was underway to find an actress to take on the coveted role of the Disney princess, director Rob Marshall says that apart from Bailey having a “glorious singing voice,” she also “possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance” that are the “intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.”
The 19-year-old singer-actress and Atlanta native may seem like a newcomer to Hollywood, but Bailey has already made a name for herself with a slew of successful works in film, television and music.
From having Beyoncé as a mentor to co-starring alongside Yara Shahidi on Grown-ish, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at the young star’s accomplishments so far.
Bailey and her sister, Chloe, 21, first got their start by posting cover videos to YouTube. Eventually, as Chloe x Halle, they released an EP in 2016 titled Sugar Symphony, which spawned two singles, “Drop” and “Fall.” “Drop” has more than 5 million views on YouTube, while “Fall” has racked up more than 1 million.
In 2017, the duo dropped another EP called The Two of Us, which featured the hits “Used to Love” and “Too Much Sauce.” The project was named one of Rolling Stone‘s Best R&B Albums of 2017. That same year, Chloe x Halle released “Grown,” which became the theme song for the Black-ish spinoff Grown-ish.
In 2018, Chloe x Halle released their debut album, The Kids Are All Right, which they wrote and executive produced themselves. The music was also prominently featured on season one of Grown-ish. The Kids Are All Right also includes the track “Warrior,” which was featured on the soundtrack for Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time.
At the 61st annual Grammy Awards, The Kids Are All Right was nominated in the best urban contemporary album category, and Chloe x Halle were nominated for best new artist.
In 2019, Chloe x Halle sang “America the Beautiful” at the Super Bowl.
The duo also had their song, “Be Yourself,” featured in the 2019 film Little, starring Regina Hall, Issa Rae and Marsai Martin.
Working With Beyonce
Bailey was first discovered by Beyonce after the superstar came across Chloe x Halle’s cover of her hit “Pretty Hurts” in 2013. It wasn’t long before Beyonce signed Bailey and her sister to her label, Parkwood Entertainment. She has since acted as a mentor to Bailey, even inviting Chloe x Halle to open for her during the European leg of her Formation World Tour in 2016. That same year, Bailey and her sister made appearances in Beyonce’s Lemonade visual album.
In 2018, they opened again for Beyonce; this time for the “Crazy in Love” singer and her husband, Jay-Z, on their joint On the Run II tour, alongside DJ Khaled.
Bailey has prepped herself to play Ariel with several acting roles over the years, including a series regular role on Grown-ish as Sky Forster, after she and sister Chloe originally signed on for recurring roles. Bailey has also appeared on Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and in the 2006 Queen Latifah film Last Holiday.
For the upcoming live-action Mermaid remake, Bailey will be joined by stars Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina, who have been in talks to star and lend their voices to other live-action and CG parts. Marshall is set to direct, after helming the studio’s sequel to Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Returns.
The film is eyeing an early 2020 production start.
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