Halle Bailey says seeing a black Little Mermaid character as a child would have changed her “whole life”.
The singer and actress, 23, is starring as mermaid Ariel in the upcoming live action remake of Disney’s 1989 ‘The Little Mermaid’ animation, and said if the cartoon had been more diverse it would have increased her “confidence”.
Halle, who shot to fame as a teen pop star as one half of the duo Chloe x Halle with her older sister, told The Guardian: “I feel like, if I would have had a black mermaid, that would have been insane, that would have changed my whole perspective, my whole life, my confidence, my self-worth.
“You’re able to see a person who looks like you, when you're young?
Some people are just like, oh, it’s whatever, because they’ve had it their whole life. It’s nothing to them. But it’s so important.”
Halle was targeted with race hate when her role as Ariel was announced, with the hashtag #NotMyAriel trending on Twitter after her role was announced.
She said about it being impossible to avoid feeling “hurt” by the backlash: “Yeah, we’re all human beings, so if we see anything negative about ourselves, of course it’s going to hurt or sting a little bit, especially remarks like those. I expected it, honestly.
“I mean, yeah. The world we live in today, just being a black woman, you have a certain awareness that comes with life, in general.
“So I wasn’t very surprised or shocked.”
She added about how the attitude she adopted to face down the racism: “I think it’s just the way that you respond and move, and know that inside you’re worthy, and you’re here for a reason.”
Halle also told how she grew up admiring black female music icons, adding when asked about her biggest inspirations: “A lot of musicians, amazing black women who were singers, like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé.”
She said about her eldest sister Ski having Destiny’s Child posters on her bedroom wall: “I remember growing up and feeling like I had a lane I could pursue because of these women.
“They made me feel confident in the skin I was in.”