Let’s Discuss: The Little Mermaid Live Action Casting of Ariel

Hey guys! I hope you’re all doing well! If you know literally anything about me, it’s probably that I love Ariel and The Little Mermaid. You can read me talk all about her and all things Disney in my Disney Tag. Recently, the part of Ariel was casted for the live action remake of The Little Mermaid and it caused quite the stir. The part of Ariel will be played by Halle Bailey.

I’ve wrestled with the idea of this post all weekend. On one hand I want to speak out against this topic because it’s upsetting to me that the casting is not being happily and openly accepted. On the other hand I don’t want to misspeak, or speak on something that is not my place. I’ve decided today I do want to have an open discussion about it, and that includes calling me out if necessary. In this post I hope to talk about how I feel about the casting, and what I’m hoping this remake does for coming generations.

The Little Mermaid

Who is Ariel?

This might seem like a stupid question. I don’t mean it in the literal form of who is Ariel. I more so mean it in a way of who is Ariel to me, what does she represent? To me, Ariel represents adventure and exploration. Ariel is a headstrong young woman who knows what she wants and is determined to explore more than the edges of Atlantica. She wants to experience more than what is available to her.

One of the arguments I’ve been seeing is that Ariel is white, so why cast a young black woman? This is really disheartening to me because as much as I love Ariel, she is a fictional character. Ariel’s race is not rooted in the plot, like in Mulan or Aladdin. I believe this argument that Ariel should be white because she was white in the animation is a lazy, selfish, and disgusting excuse for white people to play the victim.

My hopes for the remake

I am really excited to see what this remake of my favorite movie turns out to be. This is a huge step in the right direction for Disney and I’m looking forward to it. I have high hopes for this movie, but not in regards of what it’ll do for me. I hope that young black girls will see this movie and see themselves in Ariel, and see that they can be whoever and whatever they want to be, even a mermaid.

The first time I dyed my hair red I instantly exclaimed that “I look like Ariel!!” My hair stylist was a bit concerned because she didn’t realize I meant that in a good way. To see this character I grew up loving within myself was really special for me, and I want that for young black girls.

Disney has such a huge platform and the ability to make young children feel heard and understood. For a young girl to be able to watch The Little Mermaid and see a princess that looks like her, that’s special. That’s what Disney movies represent, that is what matters.

Ariel Live Action

Final Thoughts

I know this post was fairly short but I wanted to just speak my mind on this topic. I do hope I didn’t misspeak, because I am white and I know the privilege that comes with that. It’s evident that the issue with this casting is a part of a bigger problem regarding race. I’m not educated enough on that topic and I certainly would never want to speak for or over anyone so I’ll leave this post at that.

What do you think about the casting of Ariel? Are you excited for the live action remake of The Little Mermaid? Thanks for stopping by, until next time…

Be Nice. Be Good.

Mich. x

(With this post being about such a hot topic, I want to make it know absolutely NO form of HATE or DISCRIMINATION is welcome here. Any hateful comments will be DELETED)

Simply Michelle

Hi! I’m Mich. I’m a 26 year old young woman trying to navigate adulthood and all the challenges it brings. On Simply Michelle you will find genuine posts about a wide range of topics from mental health & faith to makeup & baking. This is my safe place to be vulnerable and hopefully you'll feel that you can do the same. I hope you stick around!

Be Nice. Be Good. x

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  1. I have a red haired husband and son, and we’ve already had people asked if we are upset they didn’t cast a white, redhead. That question is so outlandish to us. They made a great choice with casing Ariel! I can’t wait to see how it turns out. 😊

    1. thank you for sharing your thoughts! i wouldn’t be surprised if she dyed her hair for the part

  2. To be honest I totally agree with you; mermaids are a fantasy creature, and they did not specifically mention a ‘race’ for Ariel and the only reason she’s white in the original animation was probably because it reflected the times and only white people were really represented in the media. I’m really looking forward because Halle Bailey has a beautiful voice!

    1. Leia says:

      She was white in the original story 🤷🏽‍♀️

      1. In the original books which was written in the 1800s she was green….

        “… She was, however, deserving of very great praise, especially for her care of the little sea-princesses, her grand-daughters. They were six beautiful children; but the youngest was the prettiest of them all; her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea; but, like all the others, she had no feet, and her body ended in a fish’s tail… ” – Hans Christian Anderson, The Little Mermaid

      2. thank you for referencing the original story lizzie! can you imagine if dinsey had followed that and made her green!? that would have been terrifying lol!

      3. I know right? Although I kind of want it to happen, too!

    2. completely agree! even in the original story by hans christian andersen i don’t think they mention a race because it’s not important to the story

  3. Great post and you’re definitely not out of place for speaking about it because you’re white! I have absolutely no opinion on the casting – I don’t know the actress who’s cast (as in, I haven’t seen her in anything else personally) but if she’s right for the role, then go get em. I agree that race has no distinction on the story of The Little Mermaid. Not like it does with Mulan – or even The Lion King in where that’s set – so it really doesn’t matter. I’m sure she’ll do amazingly!

    1. i couldn’t agree more jenny!

  4. I really don’t see a problem with the actress who will play Ariel as long as she manages to present all the qualities of the character. We should discuss about the talent and interpretation and not about the race.

    Antonia || Sweet Passions

  5. I feel so sorry for the poor young woman having to deal with all of the backlash when I’m sure she was probably very excited to get the role. I can understand why some people acted badly initially, because it’s so far removed from what they know. But I agree that’s it’s totally ignorant and lazy that they can’t see the bigger picture when they actually think about the situation logically. It’s such a great step for Disney, as you said. She’s a mermaid…it’s not like they’re casting Snow White…x


    1. completely agree! I would understand if they were doing a live action of Brave because she is a white, redhead from scotland but like you said Ariel is a mermaid

  6. I totally agree with this post! I love when Disney makes a remake of their old films because they are literally the movies that I grew up watching and this whole argument about who is playing Ariel I think is ridiculous, you made a good point about her race not being apart of the film and I think the actress who has been picked for this film will do amazingly! Great post x

    1. I think it’s ridiculous as well, this gives Disney a chance to expand and reach a larger audience

  7. You have written such a great piece. I also think that Ariel is a fictional character and does not depict a certain race. Thank you for sharing x

    1. thanks for taking the time to read lauren xx

  8. I think this post was very thoughtful and beautiful expresses all the reasons you loved Ariel and how a new generation will now be able to enjoy the latest incarnation of this character.


    1. what a thoughtful comment, Ariel is more of a personality than an actual person because well she’s a fictional mermaid lol xx

  9. I’m with you on this. ALL little girls should be able to see themselves represented in stories and films. And really, the colour of Ariel’s skin has no bearing whatsoever on the story.

    1. Leia says:

      Great!!!Then what about little redheads who were eager to see her on screen because they shared a resemblance??

      1. White girls have no lack of representation in the media.

      2. as sarah said, white girls have no lack of representation. and ariel is a fictional character they have the original animation to relate too

    2. completely agree! even in the original by hans christian andersen i don’t believe they mention a race, just that she is a mermaid. he doesn’t even give her a name if i remember correctly

      1. Leia says:

        She was white in Hans Christian Andersen’s novel.Honestly as a POC why am I the one who knows more about her colour than you all do???🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️🤔🤔

      2. In his novel he describes her skin as “clear and delicate as a rose leaf” the whole point is that her race does not change her story nor does it play a role in her story. she’s a mermaid

      3. Leia says:

        True,they don’t. But it’s an already established character,why are they race bending her when they can create new mermaid princesses who are stronger than Ariel?

        Plus Starfire and Annie were redheads who were played by black women and I get that they’re fictional but when does this stop? People put their love into their creations and it’s disrespectful to change anything about them because it’s like people are saying that their efforts weren’t enough.

        Besides I’m not really sure how having her be mute for most part of the movie is a win when most African Americans had an issue with Tiana being a frog for most of the movie.🤔🤔🤔🤔

  10. Leia says:

    Okay forget starfire,that was my mistake.

  11. I personally don’t mind who plays Ariel as long as she does the character justice. Sending you all of my love 💜

    With love, Alisha Valerie x |

    1. I completely agree alisha. as you said, she’s a character which is more about a personality than anything else. sending you love back babe xx

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