The Little Mermaid has been going through some much needed diverse changes this year. The idea that Disney princesses have to be white is simply not acceptable anymore. With so much ridiculous uproar last month over the news that a young black woman would be playing Ariel in the new live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, we now have confirmation that our beloved mermaid will forever be freed of living in an Anglo-only world.
Last week, it was announced that the Wonderful World of Disney would televise The Little Mermaid Live! starring Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel. This version should not be confused with the live-action feature film of The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey. The TV version, which will air on Nov. 5 on ABC, also stars Queen Latifah as Ursula and Shaggy as Sebastian. Cravalho is no stranger to playing Disney characters. You may remember her as the starring voice of Moana.
Cravalho herself cannot be labeled. The 18-year-old, multiracial Hawaiin is the daughter of a Native Hawaiian mother and a Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish father. Haters are always going to hate but the truth is there’s really nothing they can argue. The truth is, folks need to understand that we are no longer accepting TV or film roles exclusively going to white actors. Not anymore.
When Halle Bailey was announced to play Ariel: oh no!! Ariel is supposed to be a redhead from Denmark!! This is an affront to my white bread and mayonnaise life!!
When Auli’i Cravalho was announced to play Ariel: *crickets*
— 𝒮𝓉𝒶𝓃 𝒜𝓂𝒶𝒷𝒾𝑒 💞 (@Fruityfruit6) August 5, 2019
We’re hoping that having both a Black actress and a multi-racial actress playing Ariel will finally shut the haters up. Ariel is not one type of fictional character because she is adored by a spectrum of fans, which include brown and black young women. We have the right to see ourselves in her as well. In fact, it is crucial that young brown and black girl see themselves reflected in film and television. Seeing Disney princesses that look like them can deeply impact their self-esteem and identity.
One person that is talking up a storm about this thrilling news — as she should be — is Cravalho. In an interview with Hollywood Life, she spoke about what it’s like to play two iconic Disney characters at just 18. “I was very happy with one Disney princess,” she told the online publication. “I didn’t think I could be greedy and get two, but they were kind enough to ask if I wanted to play Ariel and, of course, my response was yes, yes, yes.”
nothing but respect for my ariels pic.twitter.com/RKLr6Zv5Gd
— luna (@maizuIas) August 5, 2019
While she’s super excited to dig into the role, she admitted she’s mostly gearing up for what should be an unforgettable duet.
“I am really, really excited to hear ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls,'” Cravalho said. “I cannot imagine what Queen Latifah’s going to bring to that role. She is just oozing confidence. I can’t wait to see it.”
We can’t either! We’re excited to see more Disney film remakes with more WOC playing the lead characters!