For those who say Grown-ish’s Halle Bailey is not their Ariel, Freeform, the network that airs the Black-ish spinoff, would like to have a word with you. In fact, they would like to have several. Freeform’s open letter to Little Mermaid haters laid out a few reasons why Bailey is the perfect choice for the role — the most important being, Ariel isn’t actually a real person.
“An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls,” the networked tweeted after it was announced Bailey would be the new Ariel in the live-action remake. The comment was originally posted on Freeform’s Instagram in response to those who questioned the choice of a Black actress for the cartoon character that has been portrayed as white up to now. To that criticism, Freeform, which is a Disney TV property, humourously pointed out that Ariel is a fictional character created by a Danish author that lives in the ocean, which in no way precludes the possibility of her being Black.
“Ariel…is a mermaid,” Freeform wrote. “She lives in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy).” But, even if people want to say that Ariel is Danish, Freeform pointed out, “Danish mermaids can be Black because Danish *people* can be Black,” which also means, and they can’t stress this enough, “Black Danish people, thus mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair.”
Not to mention, The Little Mermaid is a fantasy in which mermaids swim around with a talking Jamaican crab and lose their voices in bad contracts with sea witches, so is it really that hard to believe Bailey in this role? If it is, Freeform thinks you need to re-evaluate some things.
“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,” they wrote. “Oh boy, do I have some news for you...about you."
Luckily, many seem to agree with Freeform, posting Little Mermaid fan art inspired by Bailey’s casting. Celebrities such as Janelle Monáe, Mariah Carey, and Halle Berry also congratulated the Chloe x Halle singer on landing the iconic role. “In case you needed a reminder... Halles get it DONE,” Berry tweeted.
Even Bailey posted her own artwork, originally drawn by Dylan Bonner in 2015 for another project, in which she’s part of that world. “Dream come true,” she tweeted.
For many, it is a dream to see the role played by a young Black woman, who, according to The Little Mermaid’s director, Rob Marshall, is a “rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance — plus a glorious singing voice — all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.” The only downside is that we won’t get to see Bailey as Ariel until 2020.