Beyoncé’s Mom and Trevor Noah Defend Halle Bailey Against ‘The Little Mermaid’ Backlash
Not everyone is happy about Disney’s forthcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The cast is star-studded, with Grownish alum Halle Bailey as the beloved lead character Ariel, and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula. While the cast and crew have publicly praised Bailey’s performance, some fans of the original film have been critical of the casting. Complaints about Bailey not looking like the fictional cartoon character have run rampant. Trevor Noah and Tina Knowles-Lawson are coming to Bailey’s defense.
Halle Bailey as the lead in the live-action remake of ‘The Little Mermaid’
News of Bailey’s casting has been known for years. The film was completed at the height of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with production taking place in the U.K. Bailey shared a snap of herself as Ariel, adorned with her full tail in the ocean, and reflected on her experience filming in an Instagram post upon the film’s completion.
“It has been the toughest experience being away from everything and everyone I’ve ever known, to feeling self-doubt/ loneliness, but also feeling such freedom and perseverance as I’ve reached the end,” she wrote in part. “This experience has made me so much stronger than I ever thought I could be.”
McCarthy gushed about Bailey’s performance while appearing on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. “I had a truly, really — not weird reaction, just overwhelming,” she admitted. “It’s so beautiful, and it’s from such a — it’s just different. That girl has got roots down, and she sings from her heart. When I heard it, there were like seven of us that just burst out crying because we had not heard it.”
Trevor Noah calls backlash against Halle Bailey as Ariel racist
The trailer teaser has been released, and despite much fanfare, others are pissed. On YouTube, the teaser received over 1 million thumbs-down reactions from viewers within a day. Noah addressed the complaints on The Daily Show saying he wants people to “stop being ridiculous” and reminded critics of Bailey as Ariel that the film is ” imaginary” regarding such fairytales.
“Really, people — we’re doing this again?” he asked viewers regarding comments that the talented singer looks “nothing like” the Ariel in the 1989 animated film. Noah added: “Nothing like? They both have the tail, they both have the red [hair].”
The talk show host sums it up as racist. “Once again, a bunch of internet racists are upset that a fictional character is being played by a Black person. This is so ridiculous,” he added. “And honestly, I don’t know what the big deal is. You guys realize that Nemo was Black too, right? Yeah! The whole movie was about a fish that can’t find his dad.”
More than anything, he wants people to support the film and block out the rest of the noise. He adds its important imagery for young Black girls to see Bailey in such a role. “I hope this scandal doesn’t overshadow the rest of the movie. ‘The Little Mermaid’ is a beautiful story about a young woman changing her core identity to please a man. Let’s not forget about that, people,” he concluded.
Tina Knowles-Lawson and her husband Richard Lawson speak on the Halle Bailey backlash
“Just that whole experience is first of all very disappointing that that is a reaction because she is beautiful, has a voice of an Angel, and why could she not be Ariel? And she said that even in her own mind she thought ‘Oh, God. I’m not footing the bill,’ but once she got into the character she realized that she could kind of transform that attitude that one race owns — it’s a fairytale. And all of our kids look at it too. I’m really happy to see that and I just have decided that I would not listen to the negative noise.”, she said in a recent interview with Fox5DC.
He husband, also an actor, chimed in. “Which means that the images that we put out there are not going to be liked by most of those people who are on the far right,” he added. “So I expect that, you expect to hear that and that has to fall off your back like water off of a duck. We have to be responsible and put it out there and let it affect the people in a positive way that it’s going to affect, and turn a blind eye to the others.”