The singer and actor will star as angel-voiced mermaid Ariel in the forthcoming live-action remake of the 1992 Disney film.
When the news of her role was announced in 2019, many people voiced their excitement to see the Grown-ish star as the sea princess. However, there were also some who were against the concept of a Black actor portraying the fictional character, resulting in the hashtag #NotMyAriel spreading across social media.
Ahead of the film’s release, Bailey recalled the time around her casting announcement and shared her grandparents’ supportive words among the negativity.
“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’” she told Variety as part of the publication’s “Young Hollywood” special.
Bailey – who makes up one half of music duo Chloe x Halle with her sister, Chloe Bailey – then shared her own feelings on what she hopes her casting will mean in terms of positive representation.
“I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special, and that they should be a princess in every single way.”
She expanded on this point by considering how impactful it would have been to see the animated version of Ariel as a person of colour when she was a child.
“What that would have done for me, how that would have changed my confidence, my belief in myself, everything,” Bailey said. “Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us.”
The Little Mermaid is expected to reach cinemas on 26 May 2023.