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In the last two weeks, Disney has released trailers for both Peter Pan & Wendy and The Little Mermaid, with Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell and Halle Bailey as Ariel, respectively. Both actresses, who co-starred on Grown-ish, break new ground in playing Disney icons, who have historically been white, and the two friends have been able to share in bringing diversity to the classic stories.
Shahidi told The Hollywood Reporter at Tuesday night’s Los Angeles premiere of Extrapolations, the Apple TV+ drama series in which she also appears, that she’s “so excited to watch Halle onscreen — if there’s anybody that is a princess just in real life, in the world, it’s Halle,” adding that her playing Ariel “made so much sense.”
She said that despite the fact that both have faced racist backlash for their castings, overall “what’s been beautiful is seeing the response to both of our characters and seeing how many people feel included in this fairy tale, while also maintaining the magic that we love in the first place.
Shahidi continued, “I think oftentimes people think of diversity and inclusion as threatening or jeopardizing the quality of the story, instead of seeing how beautifully they can be interwoven together to create something that impacts even more people, that lets even more people into stories that we love.”
Shahidi stars alongside Jude Law, Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Alan Tudyk and Jim Gaffigan in Peter Pan & Wendy, which debuts April 28 on Disney+. Bailey’s The Little Mermaid co-stars Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina, Daveed Diggs, Javier Bardem and Jonah Hauer-King, and hits theaters May 26.
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