“I Cried for 30 Minutes” Heartbreaking Confession…The Black Mermaid Controversy

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Actress Halle Bailey is learning that living your dreams isn’t always a happy thing. His casting as Ariel, the lead character in Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid” has been dogged by controversy. His African-American and athletic build has caused some to voice their disapproval. There was a baptism of fire and even a hashtag called #NotMyAriel스포츠토토. “I would sit on the floor and cry for about 30 minutes straight,” Bailey told the New York Times (NYT) today.

That doesn’t mean he lost his courage. “As a black man, racism is nothing new to me,” he told the NYT, “and I’m honored to play a role in bringing diversity to Disney content, and I look forward to taking on new challenges in the future.” After The Little Mermaid, she will be working on a musical in December. She will star as the lead in a musical version of The Color Purple, a film that tackled issues of racism.

A still from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid. [Photo Disney]

Bailey’s Little Mermaid was not only controversial for her skin color, but also for her hairstyle. Unlike the original animated film, Bailey’s Ariel wears her hair in a distinctly black braid. “As a black woman, my hair is a defining characteristic of who I am,” Bailey told the NYT, “and it was nice to be able to keep my hair the way it is (without changing it to a straight style).”

Like many children around the world, Bailey grew up watching Disney animation. “I learned to swim after watching ‘The Little Mermaid,’ but I never thought I could play that role,” he told the NYT. Instead, he nurtured his dream of becoming a singer. Stardom came unexpectedly when a video of him covering his teenage idol, Beyoncé, went viral. Beyoncé herself saw the video and signed him as an artist. When director Rob Marshall heard his voice, he thought, “This is the voice of Ariel,” and cast him. During his audition, the producers were moved to tears when they heard him sing the iconic song “Part of Your World,” according to the NYT.

Disney on Twitter. Halle Berry casting news and a still from the animated “The Little Mermaid. [Photo Twitter]

“I’m Ariel, no matter what,” she said, adding, “I want to be grateful and keep moving forward and not forgetting that I, as a black woman, have come this far because of so many before me.”

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