Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ casting shocks Chinese netizens
Published: Jul 04, 2019 06:08 PM

Halle Bailey Photo: IC


A scene from The Little Mermaid Photo: IC

US R&B singer and actress Halle Bailey has been cast as Ariel in Disney's live-action version of The Little Mermaid along with Melissa McCarthy as the villain Ursula and Canadian child actor Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina (Nora Lum) as Ariel's friends.  

The 19-year-old initially rose to fame by posting covers of pop songs with her sister Chloe on YouTube as Chloe x Halle. The two were discovered by Beyonce and signed to the superstar's label Parkwood Entertainment. Before they appeared in Beyonce's Lemonade visual album and took part in the opening act of Beyonce's The Formation World Tour in 2016, they had already released their first EP Sugar Symphony earlier that year. They released another album in 2018 and two singles. A newbie to the music industry, Bailey is also a newcomer to Hollywood feature films and TV. She has only played several characters, such as the regular role of Skylar Forster on the sitcom Grown-ish starting from 2018. 

When the news that Bailey was going to play the role of Ariel hit the internet, it swiftly rose to No.2 on the trending list on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, attracting 190 million views and heated discussion. Unfortunately, it seems that Chinese audiences aren't buying into the casting decision. 

Although some Chinese netizens think Bailey is beautiful and sweet, they generally hold the opinion that the casting choice is a disruption of the character who originally appeared as a white princess with red hair in the Disney cartoon. 

Many Chinese netizens posted pictures of the character of Mera (played by actress Amber Heard) in Aquaman, saying that she reminds them of Ariel with her red hair and delicate countenance. One netizen commented that "I hope the actress for Ariel can have the same robust energy as Mera."

According to Disney, the decision came after several months of extensive searching among potential stars. Director Rob Marshall remarked on the choice in a statement, saying that Bailey stood out from the competition with many "intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role," such as a "rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance." Additionally, as a R&B singer, Bailey also has a "glorious singing voice."  

There are also some Chinese netizens who agree with the director and ask others to base their opinion of Bailey's potentials on her ability and not that she doesn't look like the character they have in their imagination. 

While there were those complaining about the heroine's casting, some Chinese netizens began touting Jimin, a member of South Korean hit boy band BTS, as the perfect match for the character of Prince Eric with his slightly curled hair, dark eyebrows and cute eyes. Side-by-side pictures of Jimin and Prince Eric have been going viral on social media. 

The film is set to start shooting in 2020.