|Ariel from Disney's animation "The Little Mermaid," left, and Halle Bailey, new cast of the live-action remake of Ariel are seen in this combined photo. Korea Times files|
By Lee Gyu-lee
Freeform, Walt Disney Company's TV network, issued a statement to counter the skeptical views on casting Halle Bailey as Ariel for the upcoming live-action remake of 1989 animation "The Little Mermaid."
In the statement to "The Poor, Unfortunate Souls" uploaded on its social media, Freeform said Ariel is a fictional Danish character created by a Danish author. "Danish mermaids can be black because Danish people can be black," the statement read. It further described 19-year-old Bailey as being "incredible and highly-talented."
Disney officially announced the newest cast member on Wednesday, which was the first time it cast a woman of a different race for a role that was traditionally portrayed as a white princess. Many responded with the excitement, with multiple celebrities ― including Mariah Carey and Halle Berry ― publically supporting Disney's decision,
However, some disagreed on the studio's choice of its new portrayal for the underwater princess. Hashtag #NotMyAriel even started to go around on social media, shortly after the announcement.
As the backlash continued, the original voice actress of Ariel, Jodi Benson, also spoke about the casting while speaking at culture convention Florida Supercon, Monday.
"I think the most important thing is to tell the story," said Benson.
"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," she added.
Bailey is half of the sister duo Chloe x Halle, who started their careers covering songs on YouTube. The sisters caught the eyes of pop star Beyonce, which led to them signing a contract with her Parkwood Entertainment music label in 2015. The duo opened at Beyonce's 2017 Formation World Tour and they released their first album "The Kids Are Alright," last year.