New “Little Mermaid,” Halle Bailey, perseveres against backlash


Madelena Lapinski, News Editor

Since the release of its trailer on Sept. 10, the live action film “The Little Mermaid,”  has received extreme backlash against the female lead, a black actress named Halle Bailey. However, many fans are showing their support by sharing candid videos of young black girls reacting proudly to black representation. 

Halle Bailey is not new to show biz, and has played roles in notable shows like Grown-ish and Let It Shine. She also maintains a strong singing career, demonstrated through various album releases, the most recent being “Ungodly Hour,” in 2020. Bailey continues to prove that she is more than qualified to play a musical role such as Ariel. Still, racists persist. 

Haters are rambling off “facts” about mermaids in an attempt to discredit the actor on account of her complexion being unrealistic for the role. How ironic; mermaids were never realistic in the first place. 

Further, an argument arose from the controversy that Ariel was written by a Danish author, so she should be white. Despite the nationality of the author, Hans Christian Anderson, the mermaid myth comes from Syria, if one is so concerned about the origins. 

People have gone so far as to photoshop pale skin onto Bailey in the trailer and post it to various media platforms, followed by #notmylittlemermaid. Some have even sworn to photoshop the entire movie and republish it with a white lead. Even in the photoshopped versions, Bailey’s immense talent shines through, emphasizing the apparent racism, as critics only have a problem with the color of her skin. Critiquing a movie for bad acting is understandable, but finding fault with a talented young actress’s skin color is egregious. 

Bailey’s complexion does anything but take away from the performance. In a compilation shared by Good Morning America, many young girls were shown reacting excitedly to Bailey as the new Little Mermaid. 

“Mommy! She’s Brown like me! I’m so excited!” said one girl. 

Despite significant hostility towards the film, Bailey has found strength in these reactions and in the support of her family. She is especially inspired by her grandparents and their experiences confronting racism. Through her role as Ariel, Bailey proves that she wants to make a similar impact. 

Bailey says,  “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.” 

The blatant racism being expressed against Bailey is deplorable, and she should be appreciated for every aspect of her identity and the crucial representation she brings to the film. Her performance is brightening lives all over the world already. Her beautiful dark complexion and flowing red locks will leave an incredible impression in the cinematic world, and the minds of young girls – especially those who have been underrepresented in film.