'I Don't Pay Attention to the Negativity': Halle Bailey Takes the High Road on Her Role in The Little Mermaid

Halle Bailey attends Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood on August 06, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Rodin Eckenroth (Getty Images)

We love Halle Bailey’s quick clapbacks as “Sky Forster” on Grown-ish, trading clever quips with older sister Chloe, who play her track star twin, “Jazz.” But as the newest—and newly envisioned—Disney princess to enter the reboot game, we seriously admire Bailey’s restraint when dealing with the onslaught of racists armchair critics who took issue with her earning the role of The Little Mermaid herself, Ariel.

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“I feel like I’m dreaming and I’m just grateful and I don’t pay attention to the negativity,” the singer and actress, who had previously remained silent about the online attacks, told Variety at the magazine’s Power of Young Hollywood gala Tuesday, adding, “I just feel like this role was something bigger than me and greater and it’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”

Bailey also spoke on being a solo act for the film; a departure from being one half of Chloe x Halle on screen, stage and recording.

“It is definitely a little bit nerve-racking because I am the little sister,” Bailey told Variety. “I am so used to [us] always going through these challenging moments in our career together, [but] I am beginning to understand that this film is so much bigger than me,” she repeated.

Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns) clearly thinks Halle has the chops; in a July news release from Disney [h/t USA Today—who notably also called the backlash racist], the Oscar-nominated filmmaker stated that the young star’s casting was the result of an “extensive search.”

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“It was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance—plus a glorious singing voice—all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role,” said Marshall.

In the words of our favorite mermaid, “Isn’t it great? Isn’t it neat?”

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.