Disney’s highly anticipated film, The Little Mermaid, generated mixed responses from fans. At the heart of the controversy was a young woman taking on the role of a Black Ariel. This news received some racist backlash, with the hashtag #NotMyAriel trending.

So, what was the controversy about the Black Little Mermaid? Let’s dig a little deeper into the Little Mermaid controversy.

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Someone was instantly triggered by the Black mermaid and started leaving nasty comments that went viral.

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After being called out, they tried to defend themselves by saying they had a ‘half black’ friend, so they couldn’t be racist.

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It later turned out to be a distasteful joke.

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But other people weren’t just ‘joking’ with their comments and were seriously mad with Disney’s casting choice.

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Who exactly is the Black Ariel?

American singer and actress Halle Bailey was cast as the Black Disney princess in the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. When her casting was announced back in July 2019, it created a lot of uproar on social media.

People were upset with Disney for turning the Little Mermaid black. Many of them pointed out that the original writer, Hans Christian Andersen, had described the Little Mermaid as a white character in his book.

People took to Twitter with mostly positive reactions to the animated movie remake casting, with many highlighting the significance of Halle, a black woman, taking on the role of Ariel. However, although we should really just ignore them, there were some trolls, too.

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Others believed it was all done as a publicity stunt.


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Why did Disney Cast a Black Ariel?

So, why is the Little Mermaid Black? Turns out Halle’s casting has nothing to do with her skin color.

After an extensive cast search for the movie remake, director Rob Marshall said that it was “abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance – plus a glorious singing voice – all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic Disney princess.”

Bailey, who said on Twitter that it was a “dream come true,” already had a small fan following at that time. She is a part of the R&B duo Chloe x Halle, who became famous for covering pop songs on YouTube. Their debut EP, Sugar Symphony, was released in 2016 and contained the hits Drop and Fall.

The pair also made cameo appearances in Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album and were her opening act for the European leg of The Formation World Tour. The Little Mermaid was Bailey’s feature-film debut.

Was Ariel Originally Black?


Originally, Ariel was depicted as a white, red-haired mermaid in the Disney movie. In the book, the skin color of the mermaid is not mentioned. However, some people point out that the author mentions that the princess has “eyes as blue as the deep sea,” which points to a White European descent.

We believe the casting of Halle Bailey as the Black Ariel signifies a reimagining of the character for the live-action adaptation, embracing a more inclusive approach.

How Many Original Ariel Movies Are There?

The Little Mermaid franchise has three original animated movies:

  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (2008)

Apart from these, there’s a musical special, The Little Mermaid Live! (2019), and the live-action remake, The Little Mermaid (2023)

Several people came to defend the actress and pointed out the absurd logic of the trolls.

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And let’s not forget Ariel’s sisters are of different races, too.

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Why are Ariel’s Sisters of Different Races?

According to a popular theory, each of Ariel’s sisters is supposed to represent an ocean. Since they are home to different cultures and ethnicities, it would make sense for the sisters to look different. They represent an expansive underwater world, and the Black Little Mermaid fits perfectly with that narrative.

Who was the First Black Disney Princess?

Princess Tiana is the OG Black Disney princess. The animated film The Princess and the Frog was released in 2009. It marked a significant milestone as the first Black princess in the Disney franchise.

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So, that was the lowdown of the Little Mermaid controversy. Fully grown adults getting all riled up by the mermaid being played by a black woman! Beyond ridiculous, isn’t it? Halle was cast for her talent, not as a publicity stunt. So just ignore the trolls and enjoy the movie.

Let us know what you think about the movie and Halle’s acting in the comments below.