Halle Bailey: ‘I just feel overjoyed. I’m so grateful to even be a part of this’

The live action Little Mermaid premieres at the end of next week and the cast is making the rounds, attending premieres, and doing interviews. So far Halle Bailey is getting great reviews for her acting and singing performances, while also inspiring little girls around the world with her portrayal of a Black Ariel. Halle spoke to theGrio about taking the role and what it meant to her, as well as what it was like to sing the songs for the role.

A new Princess Ariel has arrived!

Halle Bailey’s highly anticipated turn in “The Little Mermaid” live-action film is just weeks away, and theGrio caught up with the vibrant young talent, breaking down the opportunity to make the beloved animated role her own, what it was like to work with Disney legends like Alan Menken and how much the project means to her.

As for Bailey, she tells us the opportunity — not only to play Ariel, but to be this representation for a generation of little girls who look like her — “feels amazing.”

“I just feel overjoyed,” she shared, “and I’m so grateful to even be a part of this readaptation of this iconic film that we’ve all known and loved for so long.”

“It feels amazing to be able to take on this character that has lived in my heart forever,” Bailey said, recalling watching the original on a VHS tape while growing up. “It’s truly a dream come true. To see it all come together and the finished product of the hard work that we did … it’s incredible.”

In addition to Bailey putting her own stamp on hits from the original “Little Mermaid,” like “Part of Your World,” the new version also features new music from the project’s acclaimed original composer, Alan Menken, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony Award-winning composer of “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.”

“We were so excited to take on these songs because they have such a nostalgic place in all of our hearts,” Bailey said, “as well as the new songs. I was fan-girling with Alan Menken! I just was, like, freaking out that I even got a chance to meet him, and the fact that he was just so kind to me about me re-creating his songs was just a really cool blessing.”

The singer-actress also shouted out Jodi Benson, the original voice of Ariel, for giving her such a solid template to work with.

“These songs have such great bones already, and Jodi Benson did an iconic job of bringing this Ariel to life,” Bailey gushed, “so I just wanted to live up to hers and also just put my own spin on it. I was so grateful that I was allowed that freedom to do certain riffs and nuances and add Halle to Ariel’s character.”

[From theGrio]

I’m not surprised Halle feels overjoyed — her having this role is a big deal, iconic, and will have such a positive impact for young women of color. It’s nice that she’s grateful, but we are the ones who should be grateful to her for the positive representation and also her grace in the face of the initial backlash. She’s awesome! Since she’s quite young, I was also slightly relieved to see she mentioned watching it on the original VHS, which was how I watched it every single weekend while my mom did my hair. Anyway, I am interested to hear the new songs and the new takes on the old favorites. The version of “Kiss the Girl” that appeared in the clip during some awards show was… not great, but I imagine the songs Halle sings will be much better than that one. Again, very excited to see this movie!

Also, Halle has been killing it with her premiere fashion. She’s on theme without being too on the nose. In London, it was a silver and white coral-inspired Miss Sohee gown with a sparkly headpiece. On point.

Embed from Getty Images

Photos credit: Cat Morley/Avalon, JW/Bang Showbiz/Avalon

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17 Responses to “Halle Bailey: ‘I just feel overjoyed. I’m so grateful to even be a part of this’”

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  1. LooneyTunes says:

    Not feeling the outfit, but—holy cow!— she is stunning.

  2. Nlopez says:

    Love to see this! I never had anything close to this when I was growing up.

  3. TikiChica says:

    I’m sure she’ll make a wonderful Ariel, but I haven’t seen any live action version of an old Disney animated film that I have liked. I guess it’s easy money for Disney, instead of risking new ideas, just rehash an old classic.

    • lucy2 says:

      It wasn’t really a remake, but I was surprised by how good and unique Cruella was, the one with Emma Stone.

  4. Becks1 says:

    I am really excited to see this. I think it looks gorgeous, she looks and sounds fabulous in the clips I’ve seen, I love Daveed Diggs and Javier Bardem, etc.

    the only live action remake that I’ve really liked so far was Aladdin, just bc I thought that brought something different to the story. so i’m willing to give this one a chance.

  5. Mimi says:

    She is so pretty. This was excellent casting as her beauty and carriage are what books have told us a princess would have. I wish we had representation like this on screen when I was growing up as a young Black girl. I hope the movie does well and I hope she did well in it. I have a group of childhood friends that I keep in touch with and we are going to make an event of it by bringing our kids and watching it together and then going out to eat. We want to show our support for Halle given the racism and hate she’s had to endure for taking this role.

    • tanesha86 says:

      The Little Mermaid was my favorite Disney movie growing up and even now at 36 years old I start bawling whenever I see Halle as Ariel. She’s so talented and beautiful. I can’t wait to see this movie

  6. death by bacon says:

    The trailer looks great. That photo of her hugging a girl beautiful. The group photo is great too such cuties.

  7. smcollins says:

    I’m not sure who’s more excited to see this, my 9-year-old son or me! I was 14 when the animated version came out and it remains one of my favorite Disney films, just behind Aladdin (hard to beat Robin Williams’s Genie). Ever since the teaser trailer was released my son has been counting down the days until it’s arrival in theaters. I can’t wait to see this with him!

  8. Penguin says:

    I wish I could be excited about this, but every Disney rehash has been awful and hasn’t done any justice to the original. In the meantime, Disney is pulling the plug on some fantastic original programming and refusing to invest in new stories. Our kids don’t need a rehashed cash grab of the movies we loved when we were young, they need their own! Also, I really hope Halle gets herself a proper stylist because this mermaid cosplay really isn’t it.

  9. lucy2 says:

    She looks beautiful, and those photos with the girls are so sweet and heartwarming. I love how she has handled this whole thing, and I hope it’s a huge success for her.

  10. ME says:

    She is so talented and beautiful. I just want to know does she have a stylist? They are doing her so wrong…so so wrong.

  11. Blithe says:

    I’m glad that she’s having a great time with this! The pictures of her interacting with the kids are truly heartwarming. It’s so sweet of her to put her own style on hold for a bit —with those mermaid-ish dresses — to add a bit of magic for the kids who want to meet “Ariel” in person.

    Halle Bailey seems like the perfect choice for this role. As a kid, I remember being struck by the fact that most of the kids who looked like me were in obviously supporting roles, or absent altogether — on TV, in movies, and even in most magazines and illustrations. I’m delighted to see our heroes and our stars portrayed with more diversity. For a few moments, at least, I can believe that it’s “a whole new world.” (Sorry/Not sorry! Lol. Wrong movie, I know.)

  12. samipup says:

    Apros of nothing…. i DO NOT like this new trend? of wearing hats made of tin foil.

  13. j.ferber says:

    She is so natural and lovely with all the little girls. She is their role model! I bet they never saw a black mermaid before they saw her. Unlike Kate, she really connects with other people and does not use them as props. And I loved how she looked in her gown. Very pretty young woman. Can’t wait to see the movie May 26.

  14. Gelya says:

    She is so beautiful. I love the picture with the little girls.