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Halle Bailey talks barrier-breaking role in ‘The Little Mermaid’: “That reassurance was something that I needed”

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Halle Bailey has put in work behind the scenes and she’s ready for the world to see it all. In an interview with Variety, she opened up about her barrier-breaking role as Ariel in the forthcoming film version of the Broadway musical The Little Mermaid. 

News of a Black Ariel was initially met with backlash, but Halle pushed through, as she understands the importance of representation.

“I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special and that they should be a princess in every single way,” she said. “There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be. That reassurance was something that I needed.”

She continued, “What that would have done for me, how that would have changed my confidence, my belief in myself, everything. Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us.”

Further reassurance came from family members, including Halle’s grandparents, who’ve endured both racism and discrimination.

“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’” she said.

Halle is the second Black actor to be crowned a Disney princess following Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in The Princess and the Frog.

The Little Mermaid is set to premiere next summer.

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