Halle Bailey Says Her Portrayal of Ariel Will Be 'Nuanced'

Halle Bailey Says Her Portrayal of Ariel Will Be 'Nuanced'

by Peyton Gatewood

Earlier this month, the full trailer for Disney’s 2023 The Little Mermaid debuted during the 95th Oscars. The two-and-a-half minute clip features stunning visuals parallelling frames of the original cartoon, Awkwafina as the voice of feathery sidekick Scuttle and Halle Bailey’s young Beyoncé-like vocals making waves as Ariel.

As more progressive parents rewatched the original The Little Mermaid, Disney has faced persistent criticism surrounding the 1993 cartoon’s perceived sexism, with many pointing out that Ariel’s fate to marry into a life on land could be considered problematic. In an effort to revisit concerns for the initial story, Bailey is promising a more nuanced portrayal of the princess.

“I’m really excited for my version of the film because we’ve definitely changed that perspective of just her wanting to leave the ocean for a boy,” she said in a profile in Edition Magazine.

“It’s way bigger than that. It’s about herself, her purpose, her freedom, her life and what she wants. As women we are amazing, we are independent, we are modern, we are everything and above,” she continues. “And I’m glad that Disney is updating some of those themes.”

Despite the burgeoning hype surrounding the live action remake from fans of all ages, many aren't happy about the widespread change taking place for the live action remake, suggesting that a remake should pay homage whenever possible and sarcastically asking if producers even took the time to listen to the original soundtrack. One Twitter user replied under a tweet relaying Bailey’s comment: “You’d think someone involved in the film might have listened to “Part of Your World” maybe once? I don’t know, too much to ask?”

Bailey laid speculation that the new movie wouldn't be true to Disney to rest in a simple, upbeat tweet, clarifying that producers for the film aren’t changing Ariel’s character at all; instead, they’re giving room for her character to be fleshed out. She tweeted: “In the original story those themes & qualities about Ariel were always there..you will just see more of that side of her in our film. I'm not against falling in love, y’all, duh.."

Bailey is no stranger to negativity — the trailer received over 600,000 dislikes on YouTube — but she moves forward with grace. “It’s honestly been such a crazy ride, and I genuinely feel shocked and honored and grateful to be in this position. A lot of times, I have to pinch myself and be like, is this real life?” she said.

Photo via Getty/ Jeff Kravitz