Disney announced last week that they have found their lead actress in Halle Bailey to play Ariel in the upcoming live-action film, The Little Mermaid. People.com reported that production for the film may begin in early 2020. The original animated musical film came out in 1989.

According to film director Rob Marshall, Bailey has a “rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance, plus a glorious singing voice”. Bailey herself took to Twitter to express her excitement, calling the opportunity to play the Little Mermaid a “dream come true”.

Halle Bailey all smiles at a media event.

Who is Halle Bailey?

Halle Bailey is a 19-year-old singer who first posted pop song covers on YouTube with her older sister Chloe. They got recognised after their cover of “Pretty Hurts” by Beyonce Knowles went viral, which led to Queen B herself signing them to her management company, Parkwood Entertainment. 

The sister duo later dropped their debut EP Sugar Symphony in 2016 before releasing their debut album The Kids Are Alright two years later. The album earned them two Grammy nominations.

In 2017, they even made the theme song for TV series Grown-ish called “Grown”. They soon became cast regulars as the Forster sister track athletes. Recently on 2 July, they just premiered the video for “Who Knew” from Grown-ish.

The fierce online backlash

However, there was a fierce backlash online from fans who criticised the casting of Bailey as Ariel. Unfortunately, their comments were largely aimed at the lack of the iconic red hair and difference in ethnicity. Some fans even started a petition called #NotMyAriel to have Disney do a recast. 

In response to the criticism, Disney’s cable network Freeform posted “An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls”:

Screenshot of Freeform's public response to "fans" who criticised the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in new live-action The Little Mermaid.
via @freeform (instagram)
Screenshot of Freeform’s public response to “fans” who criticised the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in new live-action The Little Mermaid.
via @freeform (instagram)

Other fans have also showed their support with their creativity in various imagined works of what Bailey could look like as the red-haired mermaid.

Here are some of the most retweeted gorgeous posters:

And possibly the best reaction to the whole saga is this:

Haha, he’s got a point there! 

I’m excited for more updates about the live action adaptation of the Disney classic The Little Mermaid. Other actors who are in talks to star in the film are Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay and Melissa McCarthy. Looking forward to see who gets casted next!