We’re finally getting to see what it’s like to be a part of Halle Bailey’s world. Disney released the first teaser of The Little Mermaid this weekend at their D23 Expo. The film stars Grammy-nominated singer Halle Bailey as Ariel. While there was some racist backlash when news broke of her casting (and once again due to the trailer being released), Bailey was still flooded with positive messages from viewers as she saw herself in her dream role. “I’m sure all of you in here can relate to Ariel and how special she is to all of us,” she told Vulture. “Being a little girl swimming in the pool, imagining I was a mermaid, I never imagined that would come to life [like this].” She also revealed to the outlet that when she watched the trailer that it was her first time seeing her mermaid self in the film.
Out of the sea, wish I could be... part of that world.— Walt Disney Studios (@DisneyStudios) September 9, 2022
Disney's The Little Mermaid is coming to theaters May 26, 2023. pic.twitter.com/lUw5BmYRK5
Bailey also understands the barrier-breaking performance of her role as Ariel. Only one other Black actor had been crowned a Disney princess. (Anika Noni Rose was the voice of Tiana in The Princess and the Frog.) “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,” Bailey told Variety. “There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be. That reassurance was something that I needed.”
Director Rob Marshall was blown away at Bailey’s audition for the role. “Halle had this incredible facility to be able to dig deep, find the truth of Ariel’s passion and her heart.” He said, “It was like watching a great film actor being born.”
Bailey will be starring alongside Melissa McCarthy (Ursula), Jonah Hauer-King (Prince Eric), Javier Bardem (King Triton), and Daveed Diggs (Sebastian).
The Little Mermaid will premiere in theaters in May of 2023.
In addition to the trending trailer which has racked up almost 10 million views on YouTube since its debut on Friday (Sept. 9), a compilation video of Black girls reacting to the trailer has had many needing a tissue nearby. Watch the trailer to The Little Mermaid below and fan’s reactions from the teaser: