Disney's Original Ariel Defends Halle Bailey's 'Little Mermaid' Casting

Actress Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the 1989 Disney classic "The Little Mermaid," defends the casting of singer-actress Halle Bailey Disney's upcoming live-action remake. 

While Benson was at the Florida Supercon convention recently, she shared her thoughts about people critiquing Halle Bailey for being cast as Ariel. 

“The most important thing is to tell the story. And we have, as a family, we have raised our children, and for ourselves, that we don’t see anything that’s different on the outside."

It's the "Spirit" that matters

To her, it doesn't matter how you look when you're portraying the character because it's the spirit of that character which matters the most. She gave herself as an example: if she were to be judged by the way she looks for playing Ariel, people will easily know that she's old. However, when she sings "Part of Your World" and people close their eyes, Ariel's spirit is still there. 

“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.”

Actresses as Storytellers

According to Benson, actresses must be storytellers, no matter how they look, no matter their race, or color of their skin. What matters most is how they effectively tell the story. 

“And that’s what we want to do, we want to make a connection to the audience. So I know for Disney that they have the heart of storytelling, that’s really what they’re trying to do. They want to communicate with all of us in the audience so that we can fall in love with the film again.”

Mixed Reactions

Halle, often described as Beyonce's protege, was slammed by haters after being selected as the lead character for the live-action film. The 19-year-old, according to her haters, was not a good fit to play Ariel because she's black. 

However, many others came to her defense, saying Ariel's character arc definitely does not involve or concern her skin color. 

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