Are your eyes dry? Well, be prepared for them to be the exact opposite of that in just a minute. Over the weekend the teaser trailer for Disney's live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid" was released, with the incomparable Halle Bailey playing everyone's favorite mermaid, Ariel. Not long after, videos of little Black girls everywhere reacting to a Black Ariel began making the rounds in viral TikToks.
And it really is everything. Because representation deeply matters, and these little girls get to see themselves in a legendary, beloved Disney princess—who was white in the original animated version. "The Little Mermaid" live-action version looks like it's going to be truly phenomenal.
In one video that has over three million views and nearly a million likes, a three-year-old girl is being recorded by her mother as she watches the trailer. When the realization hits her that "brown Ariel is cute," well, it's the best.
I am a fully grown 37-year-old woman and let me tell you when I heard the opening strings of Alan Menken's masterpiece score, I completely lost it. Blubbered and sniffled while I showed my own daughters the trailer.
I can only imagine the emotions mothers of Black girls must have felt as their daughters not only saw a live-action version of one of their favorite animated movies, but also saw themselves in it. Felt themselves become truly part of it. It's impossible not to tear up while watching the wonder on their faces.
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You can physically feel the moment these girls not only realize Ariel is Black like they are, but the impact of that moment for each of these precious little girls.
When this girl says, "Mama, she's Black!" over and over again, well, let's just say I heaved full, wracking sobs into the sleeve of my sweatshirt.
Halle Bailey is 22 years old and, before this role, best known as one half of Chloe x Halle—one-half of a popular singing duo (Chloe is her sister). She was cast to play Ariel a few years ago, and filming the movie wrapped in July 2021. The actual film will be released on May 23, 2023. The remake will feature music from the original score as well as new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken.
The movie also stars Melissa McCarthy as Ursula the sea witch, Javier Bardem as Ariel's father King Triton, and Jonah Hauer-King as her human love interest Prince Eric. It also features the voices of Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and Awkwafina as Scuttle.
"I can't wait to see it! It's going to be something really amazing," Bardem told EW earlier this year.
After wrapping up the filming last summer, Bailey shared an emotional post on Instagram.
"And just like that..that's a wrap ❤️," Bailey shared. "After auditioning for this film when i was 18 just about to turn 19 , to now finishing filming through a pandemic when i turned 21 ..we have finally made it...💖."
When it was first announced that Ariel would be played by a Black singer and actress, Bailey faced some harsh racism and criticism from online trolls. Freeform, Disney's cable network, released a statement that clapped back at the notion that the character of Ariel—a work of fiction about a mermaid—couldn't be Black. (In case people don't know: Hans Christian Anderson's little mermaid was Danish, and Danish people can indeed be Black. Also, uh, mermaids aren't real, so discussing the skin color of a half-human, half-fish seems little...unnecessary.)
“But spoiler alert—bring it back to the top—the character of Ariel is a work of fiction,” the network continued. “So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn’t look like the cartoon one,’ oh boy, do I have some news for you…about you.”
All one has to do is take a look at all of the little Black girls on TikTok who will now see themselves represented in one of the biggest movies of all time. The seismic impact of that alone is far more important and invaluable than naysayers on the internet will ever be.
The bottom line is this: Halle Bailey is a dream and May 23, 2023 can't get here fast enough!