It already looks like flippin’ her fins is going to get Halle Bailey very far. Disney released the first footage from the upcoming Little Mermaid live-action movie on Sept. 9, and fans are already hyped to go under the sea with Bailey’s Ariel. In the approximately one-minute teaser, the Grown-ish actor can be seen swimming through the ocean to the red-haired princess’s secret grotto where she flawlessly sings a few lines of “Part of Your World” from the 1989 animated Disney movie.
Before the video dropped on YouTube, the studio first unveiled the clip at D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, where Bailey addressed the applauding audience. “Swimming in the pool, imagining I was a mermaid, I never thought I could see that come to life,” she told the crowd, per Variety.
In an earlier interview with the trade publication’s 2022 Power of Young Hollywood issue, Bailey addressed early racist criticism of her casting on social media. Ultimately, it was her grandparents who reminded her how impactful her portrayal of a Black Disney princess would be. “It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’” she said.
Indeed, that sentiment about representation couldn’t have been more evident than it was in several early Twitter reactions to Bailey’s Ariel in The Little Mermaid, which hits theaters in May 2023. One user said they were “literally crying” to see a Black woman in the role, while another called her casting “a dream come true.”
That representation arguably will have the greatest impact on a new generation of children who might be introduced to the character for the first time through Bailey’s portrayal. Some even joked that they’re going to tell their kids that hers is the only Ariel who exists, or at least the only one who matters anyway.
In terms of the clip itself, many were blown away by Bailey’s “heavenly” vocals on “Part of Your World,” insisting she was born to play Ariel.
Then there were several others who gushed about Bailey’s “perfect” portrayal, whether it be her “stunning” look or overall dedication to the role.
Naturally, a few others called out the haters and naysayers who blasted the casting before they’d even seen what she could do. “Halle is Ariel and there’s nothing you can do,” one Twitter user wrote, while another added that they “hope everyone who said Halle couldn’t be Ariel just cuz she wasn’t a ginger is miserable and fuming” right now.
On another note, hilarity ensued as many fans already started making plans for their May movie outings — including wearing festive mermaid attire — or simply wanting to go under the sea (or, more plausibly, into a swimming pool).
Whether it be for reasons of nostalgia, representation, or just plain appreciation for great singing and acting, it’s clear that plenty of people can’t wait for Bailey’s Ariel to be part of their world.