Disney made a major casting announcement Wednesday, revealing Halle Bailey will play Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.
The 19-year-old singer and actress, who performs with her sister in the R&B duo Chloe X Halle, called the coveted role a “dream come true” in a statement.
Director Rob Marshall, whose previous credits include Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Returns, and Chicago, said the budding actress was cast as the mermaid who yearns to live on dry land because of her talent.
“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,” Marshall said in a statement.
While many people congratulated Bailey, the July 3 announcement also set off fireworks. After Disney tweeted the news, fans filled the post with comments, and some accused the studio of “ruining” the film by casting a woman of color as the fictional redhead.
“Thanks for ruining my favorite movie. I won’t see it. Sorry for her, it’s not her fault, she is a good singer, but she won’t be a good Ariel,” one commenter wrote.
Thanks for ruining my favorite movie. I won't see it. Sorry for her, it's not her fault, she is a good singer, but she won't be a good Ariel.
— Imanol Cuadrado (@imanolcuad) July 3, 2019
Another person replied: “But ariel is redhead.”
But ariel is redhead 🥺
— Angels (@jaureguimystic) July 3, 2019
Someone else wrote: “The mermaid is white period.”
The mermaid is white period.
— manulazar (@manulazar) July 3, 2019
Despite the criticism, others congratulated Bailey, including Halle Berry.
“In case you needed a reminder… Halles get it DONE. Congratulations @chloexhalle on this amazing opportunity, we can’t wait to see what you do!” Berry tweeted.
In case you needed a reminder… Halles get it DONE. Congratulations @chloexhalle on this amazing opportunity, we can’t wait to see what you do! #TheLittleMermaid #HalleBailey pic.twitter.com/z0Rik2nxRe
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) July 3, 2019
Meanwhile, Zendaya tweeted a link to an article about the casting, along with the caption: “Yeeeeessss!! Here for thiiiissss!!”
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) July 3, 2019
Bailey got her big break after she and her sister posted cover videos of popular music, including Beyoncé songs, on YouTube. The superstar singer took notice and mentored the girls.
Bailey currently has a role on the Freeform sitcom Grown-ish.