Disney just found its Little Mermaid in the young Halle Bailey, and we think she's perfect! The announcement came last week after a gruelling search for the coveted role of Ariel. In the end, the Georgia-native won out, excitedly announcing the news with the caption "dream come true..." on her Instagram.
While news of Halle's casting did elicit mixed reactions on social media, there's no doubt that a black woman playing an originally white character in a major Hollywood production is nothing less than revolutionary. It's a massive step towards inclusivity and POC representation in media. Where the doubters may say that getting a black woman to play Ariel is a disservice to the original film, we also have to remember that the 1997 animated film is a fantasy story that can be open for interpretation as the supposed race of its under-the-sea netizens play no major part in the movie's plot, unlike other culturally driven Disney movies such as Mulan and The Princess and the Frog.
“After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance — plus a glorious singing voice — all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role,” Rob Marshall, the film's director, further backed up the surprising choice in an official statement.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Halle Bailey.
She's 19-years young.
Hollywood's always been infamous for casting actors way over their age to play younger roles. Thankfully, they stayed true to The Little Mermaid's character and actually got a teen actress to play its titular role. Born in March 27, 2000, Halle's only 19-years old, only three years older than Ariel's original age of 16.
She's part of a singing duo with her older sister.
You won't have to worry about Ariel's singing chops for the movie because this girl's got that part on lock. With the voice of an angel, Halle's actually one-half of an R&B duo with her older sister Chloe Bailey, officially stylized as Chloe x Halle. The two released their debut album, The Kids Are Alright, last March 2018. They've also appeared on multiple soundtracks for famous Hollywood movies and T.V. series such as Game of Thrones and A Wrinkle in Time.
She's Beyoncé approved.
When Queen Bey herself approves of Halle and Chloe, you really don't have choice in the matter. They can practically call Beyoncé their mentor. She took them under her wing (and her record label) after seeing their viral cover of her original song Pretty Hurts back in 2013. She's since then continued to work with the girls on their debut album, and even had the duo open for her on the European leg of her 2016 Formation World Tour, and the U.S. leg of her 2018 On The Run II Tour with Jay-Z. Honestly, who wouldn't want Beyoncé's protégée playing our under-the-sea songstress?
She's a Grammy award nominee.
You heard that right. Our next Disney princess already has not one, but two Grammy nominations under her belt, together with her sister, of course. Chloe x Halle's debut album was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best New Artist in this year's recently concluded Grammy awards.
She's not new to the acting business.
We know what you're thinking, she can sing, but can she act? Signs point to yes as Halle first came out with her acting debut alongside Queen Latifah in the film Last Holiday at the tender age of of seven. She also currently stars in the ABC series Grown-ish as the smart and sassy Skylar Forster, a twin-act role with her sister Chloe.
She's big on self-care
Appearing on the cover of Essence Magazine, Halle and Chloe reveal their penchant for self-care and staying healthy. As revelead in their cover story, both sisters are vegan and have regular hot-yoga sessions as a means to "elevate their mind-body-soul."
She's proud of her black heritage.
Halle never shies away from opportunities that allow her to represent her heritage in the media. As part of their debut album release in 2018, the sisters released a 10-minute short film celebrating the beauty of being black and proud. It also stars Ashton Sanders from the Oscar-winning film Moonlight. “We wanted to show just how beautiful it is to be Black and how amazing it feels,” Halle says in an interview with Essence.
She's always in coordinating outfits with her sister.
Being one-half of a power duo, Halle's naturally always teaming up with her sister when it comes to stepping out in coordinting outfits. According to Essence, the duo use their "edgy and thought-provoking" style as a means of self-expression.
She's a self-taught musician
Aside from writing and arranging their own music, both sisters taught themselves to play multiple musical instruments at home. Halle, herself, learned to play the guitar simply through Youtube videos.
She's only the second POC to play a traditionally white princess.
Disney's color-blind casting of Halle marks only the second POC to be portraying an originally white princess role, making it a truly monumental feat, and a win for the Africa-American community. The first time a black woman was casted as a Disney princess dates way back in 1997 with Brandy's live-action version of Cinderella.
Congratulations, Halle! We can't wait to see you thrive as Ariel and prove all the naysayers wrong!