Disney’s cable network Freeform isn’t here for any criticism of the casting as Halle Bailey as Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.
The network penned a scathing open letter to the “poor, unfortunate souls” who have a problem with the young black actress playing the fictional mermaid character.The title of the letter is, of course, a reference to one of the songs from the 1989 animated Disney film.
The backlash began after Disney announced the casting late last week. Some even started a social media petition using the hashtag #NotMyAriel, demanding a white actress be cast in the role instead.
Freeform made the post on their Instagram and Twitter page.
“Yes. The original author of The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel…is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy),” the post read.
“But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Ariel, too, is Danish,” it continued. “Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black. Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair.”
“But spoiler alert – bring it back to the top – the character of Ariel is a work of fiction,” the network wrote. “So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn’t look like the cartoon one,’ oh boy, do I have some news for you…about you.”
Other stars in talks to star in the film are Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Awkwafina as Scuttle and Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, People Magazine reports.
The film’s director, Rob Marshall, praised Bailey as being perfect for the role.
“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,” he said.
Halle wrote that the casting was a “dream come true,” on her official Twitter page, which she shares with her sister.