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‘I just am really grateful to be in this position’: Halle Bailey opens up on inspiring a generation with ‘The Little Mermaid’

Halle Bailey's gratitude for 'The Little Mermaid' makes the whole experience more magical for all of us.

Halle Bailey
Photo by Joi Stokes/Getty Images For Disney

Halle Bailey is The Little Mermaid‘s Princess Ariel, and her journey to becoming an iconic part of Disney history has been a passionate, beautiful, and awe-inspiring process — not just for herself but for fans worldwide.

Almost every little girl dreams, as a child, of becoming a princess one day, and they all deserve to see themselves as someone worthy, strong, and beautiful for just who they are. That idea isn’t lost on Bailey as she takes on the honor of giving that gift to so many via experiences in person that have been shared on social media or red carpet premieres, Bailey is an icon, and it’s a dream come true.

In a chat with Entertainment Tonight, Bailey begins by saying that her biggest emotion regarding The Little Mermaid is gratitude, “I just am really grateful to be in this position.” The emotion isn’t something she feels simply for her journey as Ariel but for everyone who will soon pile into theaters to see the live-action retelling of her story, especially little ones who see themselves in Bailey’s Ariel.

“It’s been such a beautiful moment for me to be able to see the reactions of the babies — it makes me just emotionally overwhelmed honestly, and I cry as soon as I watch them. I think of the little girl that’s still in me, honestly, and it heals that girl inside of me to watch them feel like they have representation and someone to look to, to know that they deserve to be in those places too. [It’s] so important. It just makes me cry anytime I see any of those videos.”

Bailey isn’t the only one who cries while watching those videos; they’re extraordinarily emotional, vulnerable, and authentic. Disney fans are seeing a group of children who have a visual representation of themselves in a world-renowned princess, and it’s as magical as it is heartwarming.

Bailey also opened up about her personal idols in the Disney realm, like Brandy and Anika Noni Rose, sharing that they were women she looked to for inspiration through her journey to becoming a princess.

“I loved Brandy as Cinderella; she was so amazing, such a role model and inspiration and a really big kind of studying point for me as I was taking on Ariel. I just watched how amazing she was in that role and how comfortable she was in her skin and how impactful to audiences and little girls like me who watched it. And Anika Noni Rose, who’s just outstanding. I’ve had the chance to meet her and we got to sing [The Princess and the Frog‘s] song together, “Almost There,” for [2022’s Disney Family Singalong] with my sister. She was always so kind! But there are these beautiful Black women pioneers who’ve done this before and been there for me to be able to say, ‘OK, I can do this.'”

Bailey is showing the world that not only “can” she do this, she was made to do it. She isn’t just breathing life into a character for a project; she’s bringing joy, wonder, and a sense of belonging to kids everywhere — and there’s nothing more magical than that. From the hugs and selfies with fans who adore her to the inspirational and uplifting messages she shares, she wears the crown of a princess with poise and a persona that welcomes you in, and she embodies everything royal and kind.

You can see Bailey’s debut as Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid in theaters now, and there’s no better time to be part of her world.

About the author

Ashley Marie

Ashley Marie is a staff writer, beat leader, Disney fanatic, and Yellowstone expert. When she's not filling her friends in on all the entertainment news they can handle, she's drinking her go-to Starbucks order — a caramel macchiato, thank you — and wishing she was at Disney World or spending time at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. With a focus on positivity and kindness in journalism, Ashley has been writing for a decade and hopes to keep bringing you articles for decades to come.