Jodi Benson Praises Halle Bailey for Ariel Performance

The Little Mermaid was, once upon a time, the little movie that could. When Disney was on the brink of closing its animation studio for good, it released a film that would instead kickstart what is now known as the Disney Renaissance era. Disney is now returning to that beloved story, and it is with the blessing of Jodi Benson.

The actress had plenty of love to give to Halle Bailey, who is taking up the mantle for Ariel.

“So thrilled!!! So excited!!! Halle, you were absolutely amazing! I’m SO proud of you & your beautiful performance as ariel! It was so wonderful to celebrate with your familyAnd to the brilliant director, Rob Marshall… I’m so thankful for our friendship of over 35 years. Thank you for creating such a stunning film!”

Bailey would share the news:

“Thank you so much Jodi Benson! This means the world to me coming from you! You made Ariel magical for us!”

We’re All Part Of That World

Disney premiered the teaser for the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The teaser features Bailey as Ariel swimming to the grotto where she keeps her collection of human artifacts. The trailer ends with a tease of Bailey’s performance of “Part Of That World” before fading to black.

While many fans jumped in excitement for returning under the sea, others were not so excited. Many took to social media to cry out about the audacity of casting a black actress to play the part of Ariel. Some of these individuals reportedly tried to use Benson’s good name as an excuse, crying out that the actress is irreplaceable as Ariel. Benson has been quick to shut down those claims. When the casting was announced in 2019, #NotMyAriel started to trend on social media. Benson spoke up at the Florida Supercon convention about her thoughts on Bailey’s casting.

“I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart, and their spirit, is what really counts. And the outside package — cause let’s face it, I’m really, really old — and so when I’m singing ‘Part of Your World,’ if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song. But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel.”

Benson would continue, making it clear that the race of the character isn’t as important as telling a good story.

“We need to be storytellers. And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story.”

Despite the more upset reactions, fans are still making themselves seen and heard. On TikTok, black moms are sharing reaction videos of their kids watching the trailer and jumping with delight at seeing an Ariel that looks like them. At the end of the day, I think we can all agree that those are the opinions that matter the most here.Like many of its predecessors, The Little Mermaid will be a retelling of the animated film but with enough twists and adjustments for a modern audience to enjoy. While Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s iconic music will be featured, it will be accompanied by new music created by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Alongside Bailey as Ariel, the film will also star Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and Awkwafina as Scuttle.

The Little Mermaid will be coming up from the sea and into theaters on May 26, 2023.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer


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