Halle Bailey: When I watch the babies react it heals my spirit

To correspond with the release of the live-action Little Mermaid, Glamour has an extensive interview with Halle Bailey. I’ve learned bits and pieces about her over the past few months as promo for the the movie has ramped up, but most of it has been in relation to her experience filming and playing the role of Ariel and how she’s coped with the scrutiny and racist reaction to being cast as the first Black Ariel. But this interview is wide-ranging and shows more of Halle’s personality! Some highlights:

On auditioning and being cast as Ariel: Bailey assumed she’d be auditioning for “one of the sisters or something like that” but later learned Marshall had watched her performance at the Grammys earlier that year and thought she’d make the perfect Disney princess. It took a minute for it to sink in that she was being sought for the lead. “I didn’t hear anything for a while—a few months actually,” she says. “I was like, ‘Okay, well, I guess I didn’t get it.’ I forgot about it completely.” And then came a phone call in July 2021 from a strange number, one Bailey said she’d seen pop up a few times and ignored. Eventually, at the insistence of her father, her sister, and her younger brother—all hanging out in the family’s garage studio that summer day—she picked up.

On being Ariel and the reaction from girls and young women: “I’ve never done anything like this before,” she says of stepping outside her comfort zone. “I’ve never seen myself on a big screen, so when I see myself there, I’m just like, ‘Is that me? Did I really do that?’” And the pride she feels will, undoubtedly, be matched by young women and girls everywhere this Friday, the same ones who couldn’t contain their excitement watching Bailey in the Little Mermaid trailer. “When I watch the babies react and they’re proud of me, it almost heals something within me and my spirit,” she says. “I get really emotional when I think about it and when I see the reactions. It’s just lovely.”
On criticism and keeping her relationship private: “It’s really funny how people look at you [as] still being this young girl, still being this innocent, untouchable thing,” she says. “I appreciate that as I venture into adulthood, I’m able to make my own decisions.” And when it comes to the details of her personal life, one of those decisions is discretion. “For my peace and my sanity, I have to keep that private.”

On what she likes to do when she’s not working: “I love hiking, I love hot yoga, I love playing my guitar, I love making jewelry.” She’s incredibly close to her cat, Poseidon—a 21st-birthday gift from her siblings, who was named as an ode to her role as Ariel. She finds peace in the kitchen. “I’ve been vegan for 12 years, [but] I’m happy that I have the experience of growing up in Georgia and making turkey burgers and chicken and steaks, so I know how to apply that to whoever is not vegan in my life.”

[From Glamour]

I sort of can’t believe that Halle didn’t pick up that random number! Even if she’d tried to put the Ariel audition out of her mind, surely there were other things she was up for and other opportunities for which she might want to answer the phone. It’s great that she feels so proud of her performance and so affected by the significance of her being Ariel for little Black girls and young women. She says at another point that Ariel was the reason she wanted to swim, so I’m glad she got to realize that dream for herself and to embody it for other little girls. Halle also says that she got her own place for the first time after filming The Little Mermaid and it’s in the same building as her sister, Chloe. That sounds like an ideal situation — to live very near someone you’re close to, but still have your own space. And if she weren’t an actress she would have been a nurse, pediatrician, or kindergarten teacher. Halle is also in The Color Purple, coming out in December. This is a big year for her!

photos credit: Cat Morley/Avalon and Glamour Mag via Instagram

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11 Responses to “Halle Bailey: When I watch the babies react it heals my spirit”

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  1. Indica says:

    There was an adorable video I saw of two young girls asking her about how they did her hair for the movie. She was so sweet and kind and explained it so they could understand.
    They need more representation like this. And I hope those girls grow up to believe they can be anything and do anything.

  2. Normades says:

    I just can’t believe anyone would get upset about her being Ariel. The film is just wholesome fun and even a little boring. I went with my daughter and almost fell asleep during one of the underwater musical numbers.

  3. Blueberry 🫐 says:

    It’s wonderful to learn that her non-acting aspirations included serving children, and her she is inspiring children globally! This must be so fulfilling for her. She is to be celebrated.

  4. Nicegirl says:

    So much talent and beauty, infinitely watchable!! Go Halle!!! 💕 🔥 🖖

  5. Becks1 says:

    I love seeing the videos pop up on my reels on IG of little girls meeting her in the Disney parks or seeing her at the premiere or whatever and how much it means to them.

    I cannot wait to see the movie this weekend! I

  6. AngryJayne says:

    Aww! I love this for her. I took off tomorrow (I’m gonna need to sleep in after seeing Dave Chappelle tonight lol) and I plan on seeing this to support her

  7. SIde Eye says:

    So happy for her and frankly, happy for all of us! Representation matters.

  8. KansasGal says:

    Wait, she’s going to be in The Color Purple?! Wheeeee!!!

  9. j.ferber says:

    It must be a joy to her to see little Black girls ooh and ahh over a genuine Black mermaid. It gives me joy just thinking about it. This matters.

  10. JT says:

    I love this Little Mermaid movie. Solid cast. Halle sings like an angel. Her acting in a scene or two could he improved, but overall good.

    I did find the movie a bit slow the first time I saw it. But when I saw it a second time, I didn’t mind the pacing as much.