After the trailer for Disney’s live-action version The little Mermaidparents of young black girls post videos on social media of their children’s reactions to seeing Halle Bailey as Ariel.
“I want to watch it!” one girl says in a video posted by TikTok user Adelia Chaiyakul.
“Mom!… She’s dark like me!” said a girl in another TikTok.
Many similar videos have been shared on social media since the trailer was released on Friday, with hashtags including #representationmatters and #Blackgirlmagic. The trailer has surpassed 12 million views.
Disney first unveiled a preview of its live-action adaptation of the 1989 animated film at its D23 Expo. In the video, fans get a brief glimpse of Bailey, an actress and singer from R&B duo Chloe x Halle, playing the lead role of Ariel.
In addition to Bailey, the film features actor Daveed Diggs as the voice of Sebastian, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as Triton, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, and Awkwafina as Scuttle.
In an interview with Variety, Bailey, 22, addressed the backlash over her casting in the lead role. Some on social media have used the hashtag #NotMyAriel to say that the casting of a black actress goes against the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, which was originally published in Denmark in 1837. Following that, Bailey said her grandparents gave her some perspective.
“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this means to us, to our community, to all the little black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,” Bailey said.
“I want the little girl in me and the little girls like me watching to know that they are special and should be a princess in every way,” she added.
The original 1989 animated film tells the story of a young mermaid, Ariel, who falls in love with a human prince. In order to convince him, she makes a deal with a sea witch named Ursula to become a human.
The little Mermaid is set to hit theaters on May 26, 2023.