Since it was announced the Halle Bailey, one half of the R&B/pop duo Chloe x Halle, would be portraying Princess Ariel in the upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, the uproar has been immediate. The hashtag #NotMyAriel immediately began trending on Twitter, with many making the racist argument that a Black woman can’t be Ariel, who was originally depicted as white in the 1989 film.
Ariel’s original portrayer is all for a Black Ariel to grace the movie screen. At the Florida Supercon convention, Jodi Benson expressed her pleasure at Bailey’s casting.
“I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart, and their spirit, is what really counts,” Benson said. “And the outside package — cause let’s face it, I’m really, really old — and so when I’m singing ‘Part of Your World,’ if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song. But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel.”
Benson, who portrayed Ariel in the 1989 animated classic, emphasized the importance of storytelling, regardless of someone’s skin color.
“We need to be storytellers,” she said. “And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story.”
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