The news of Halle Bailey being cast as Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid got quite the reaction online. By far the most common response was happiness for Bailey, with many people looking up her performances in R&B group Chloe x Halle and realizing that she’s absolutely got the charisma and voice to play Ariel.
Then there was the ‘other’ kind of reaction, from the people who crawl out of the woodwork when a character is cast in a different race than they’re used to. It’s all gotten a bit angry, with folks accusing Disney of not respecting the original by choosing to change the skin color of a magical fish-woman who parties with a talking Jamaican reggae crab.
But one person who’s definitely on the side of the angels is Zendaya. The Spider-Man: Far From Home actress has long been linked with the role of Ariel, and she’d mentioned in interviews that the part really appealed to her. When Bailey’s casting was announced, I immediately wondered whether Zendaya would be disappointed she didn’t get the gig, as it seems were many others. But now she’s chimed in on social media to offer her congratulations on the casting, writing:
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) July 3, 2019
Some of Zendaya’s fans aren’t being quite so magnanimous. Reactions range from “you were robbed queen” and “I wished they picked you Zendaya” to “I’d love to see Zendaya as Ariel, how sad.” But it has to be said that the vast majority of those commenting are supportive of both Zendaya and Bailey, with the most common refrain being “legends supporting legends.” I’m very much down with that.
I suspect that this furore over The Little Mermaid casting will die down fairly quickly. Though I admit I hadn’t heard of her before the news broke, everything I’ve seen and heard about Bailey makes me think she’d be the perfect Ariel. And if someone’s skin color puts you off going to see a children’s movie…well, you probably shouldn’t be hanging around children in the first place.