Photo: Getty
  /  09.10.2022

Disney fans have finally been invited under the sea for their first glimpse of Halle Bailey starring as Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The film will be released in May 2023 and will mark Bailey’s big screen debut.

A first-look video was unveiled during the D23 Expo on Friday (Sept. 9). The 83-second clip shows Bailey with the underwater princess’ red hair, green fin, and purple seashell bra. While the look of Ariel is a slight departure from Disney’s 1989 original, the singer reminds viewers of its roots as she sings the iconic song “Part of Your World.”

The multifaceted talent was cast as the mermaid in July 2019, and filming for the production wrapped in July 2021. The reimagining of The Little Mermaid is only the second time Disney has cast a Black actress as a princess. In 2009, Anika Noni Rose was the voice of Princess Tianna in the animated film The Princess and the Frog.

For fans, seeing the “Grown-ish” actress put her spin on a childhood classic left many overcome with emotions. For some, it was also a reminder that the last time a notable Black singer portrayed an iconic Disney character was in the 90s when Brandy starred in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

The historic fete of Bailey’s casting is not lost on her. While appearing on Tina Knowles-Lawson’s Facebook series, “Talks With Mama Tina,” the budding actress said landing the role was surreal. “It was a shocker for me, even when I was asked to audition, I looked at it and I was like, ‘Me? For Ariel?’ You know, because my image of Ariel that I’ve had is the red hair and the pale skin and the tail. She was amazing to me and I loved her, like we all did but that’s what I’ve seen her as for so long,” she said. 

Check out some of the reactions to the first-look video below.




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