Since 1997, when singer Brandy starred in “Cinderella,” a black woman has not been cast in a leading role in a Disney live-action movie. The remake and its diverse cast, which featured Whoopie Goldberg as Queen Constantina and Whitney Houston as Cinderella’s fairy godmother, was considered a major win for representation. But, that was over 20 years ago.
There has also only been one black leading animated princess which was Princess Tiana in Disney’s 2009 movie, “The Princess and the Frog.”
This week it has been announced that the new Ariel — the rebellious daughter of King Triton who longs to live on dry land — in the live-action remake of Disney’s Oscar-winning 1989 movie, “The Little Mermaid,” will be played by one half of the sister singing duo, Chloe X Halle.
Halle Bailey, 19, from Atlanta Georgia, USA, shot to fame alongside her sister Chloe when the superstar Beyoncé discovered their covers of her songs on YouTube.
Since their discovery, the duo has signed a record deal with Parkwood Entertainment and has opened for Beyoncé on her “Lemonade” tour.
dream come true… 🧜🏽♀️🌊 pic.twitter.com/sndjYUS6wO
— chloe x halle (@chloexhalle) July 3, 2019
The casting of a young black woman as a Disney Princess has been touted as “important” by many in the film industry, saying that as it’s 2019, we need to see more diversity of representation on the big screen — especially in children’s movies.
“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,” said Rob Marshall, the director of the movie, in a statement.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy for Halle to become part of the Disney world. Tweets of outrage have been circulating on Twitter with the hashtag #NotMyAriel.
Halle has also received a barrage of racist tweets from some unfortunate souls that believe that Ariel who was originally a white redhead, should not be played by a black girl.
Refreshingly, many stars, writers and critics both POC and non-POC have rushed to Halle’s defence.
The movie will feature many of the songs from the animated 1989 original, written by Alan Menken, including “Under the Sea” and “Part of your World.”
For the re-imagined version of the fairy tale, Menken will team up with Lin-Manuel Miranda on the music.
Filming is expected to start in early 2020.