Actress Halle Bailey, who will be starring in Disney’s live action reboot of The Little Mermaid, has expressed the “beautiful experience” she had bringing her locs to the protagonist’s signature red hair. Bailey, upon request by director Rob Marshall, was glad to bring her very essence to the role.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly during the D-23 expo in Anaheim, California, Bailey explained how Marshall wanted her to bring aspects of herself to the character. “With Rob, he’s so amazing and just saying, ‘I see you and I want to bring you into the character,’” she said, adding that “it was a beautiful thing.” Part of this involved incorporating her locs into the animated Ariel’s famous red hair. “Incorporating my locs into the red hair was something that was really special to me. The outfit, the fins, everything. It’s just amazing. I’m just grateful that I’ve been able to take the essence of me and mix the two.”
After a trailer of Bailey in the film singing a rendition of ‘Part of Your World’ was released earlier this month by Walt Disney Pictures, reports of Bailey’s performance already making a positive impression on young Black girls has filled social media. With the official teaser trailer already having reached 104 million views globally as of last week, parents have shared the excited reactions of their children on social media.
Previously, Bailey had stated to Variety that she wants “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 has now further explained that her admiration and interpretation of Ariel’s inner strength has contributed to this. “We all yearn for something greater,” she said in the EW interview. “We all relate to feeling like we want something better for ourselves, and I think the strength in her is that she goes for it. She goes after what she wants and what she sees for herself, and she knows she should be somewhere else.” Apart from her locs, Bailey has added that her version of Ariel is less about “falling in love and wanting a boy and wanting the above world,” and more “about what [Ariel] sees for herself and her future and her passion.”
Bailey has also spoken about how her experience working on the film has been a positive experience for herself, opening up about how it has made her stronger. “I really felt like I got strong, mentally and physically, and I think it was a really good thing for me to do, just in terms of developing into a woman and myself, and knowing myself more,” she said, adding, “I’m more sure of myself after the filming experience, for sure.”
The live-action remake of The Little Mermaid is set to be released in theaters in May 2023 and will showcase a well-rounded cast. The film will feature Melissa McCarthy (Thor: Love and Thunder) as the antagonist sea-witch Ursula and Jonah Hauer-King (This is the Night) as Prince Eric. Also starring in the film are Javier Bardem (Skyfall) as Ariel’s father, King Triton, Daveed Diggs (Black-ish) as Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay (Luca) as Ariel’s best friend Flounder, and Awkwafina (The Farewell) as Scuttle. In addition to the original film’s classic soundtrack, four new songs composed by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda will feature in the new film, said to be written specifically for Bailey because of her “incredible vocal ability.”