Original ‘Little Mermaid’ Actress Defends Halle Bailey Against Racist Casting Backlash

IndieWire | 7/9/2019 | Staff
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Jodi Benson, the original actress who voiced Ariel in Disney’s 1989 animated fantasy film “The Little Mermaid,” is speaking out against the recent backlash over the studio’s upcoming live-action adaptation. Disney announced July 3 singer and actress Halle Bailey had been cast in the title. The casting marked a breakthrough as Bailey is a black woman and Disney’s animated Ariel is white. While many celebrated Disney for the casting, others were quick to criticize the studio for changing the skin color of the beloved Disney princess. The hashtag #NotMyAriel started trending on social media not long after the casting was announced.

Speaking to fans at Florida Supercon (via USA Today), Benson defended Bailey’s casting by saying, “I think the most important thing is to tell the story. We have, as a family, raised our children and for ourselves that we don’t see anything that’s different on the outside. I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart and their spirit is what really counts.”

Storytellers - Benson

“We need to be storytellers,” Benson continued. “And...
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