Black Ariel casting choice for new ‘Little Mermaid’ inspires fan art depicting Halle Bailey in role
Fans who are thrilled at seeing the Chloe x Halle star set to play the title role in the reboot of the Disney classic are already imagining what she'd look like
News that singer Halle Bailey has been tapped to play Ariel in Disney’s live-action reboot of The Little Mermaid has inspired a wave of fan art from people excited about the casting choice.
“As Black creators, we know how isolating this industry can be,” Nilah Magruder, a Los Angeles–based illustrator and animator, told Buzzfeed. “To see a black Ariel now is particularly inspiring.”
“I was kind of like, Whoa, Disney really went and did that!” she added.
🎵 Watch and you'll see
Some day I'll be
— Nilah Magruder, horse feminist (@nilaffle) July 4, 2019
Bailey, of the singing duo Chloe x Halle — twin sisters who star on ABC’s Grown-ish — celebrated her casting by sharing a picture of a Black Ariel from artist Dylan Bonner, who created the art years ago for a separate project for a friend.
Director Rob Marshall noted that after an “extensive search” for the right actress to play Ariel, Bailey turned out to be the perfect choice.
“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 role,” he said.
Talented fans have responded to Bailey’s casting by sharing their own interpretations of Black Ariel, like the design below from Twitter user @StunninDenzel:
Created some Fan Art for black Ariel cos I’m here for it all. pic.twitter.com/uUi3qw2JsM
— Denzel (@StunninDenzel) July 8, 2019
And then there’s this from @Aquainkcomics:
@chloexhalle My #fanart of #HalleyBailey and flounder because #HalleIsAriel #art #mermaids #ariel #TheLittleMermaid #disney #locs #locks #dreadlocks #locjewelry #lockjewelry #illustration #penandink #inking #digital #clowntangfish pic.twitter.com/JcSmDQUCwa
— ✍° Ashley Holder: A.I.G💙°✍ (@Aquainkcomics) July 5, 2019
Twitter user Abi does art noted that she “hadn’t seen anyone do the new #Ariel in her pink outfit yet so thought I’d give it a go #HalleBailey you go girl.” — see her artwork below:
— Abi does art (@abidoesart) July 6, 2019
London-based illustrator and designer Hayden Williams, 27, has been sketching Disney princesses since he was a kid, Buzzfeed reports, and his work up of Bailey as Ariel quickly went viral on Twitter.
“It’s how I envision she may potentially look in the movie,” he told the outlet of his sketch, which also features Bailey with red hair.
Check out his design below:
— Hayden Williams (@Hayden_Williams) July 4, 2019
“The movie is a fantasy and Ariel is a mythical creature, so she can be any race,” he said. “Me being a person of color also appreciates the decision to switch things up, and I can’t wait to see what Disney does with the movie.”
Williams believes his drawing has gone viral because fans are excited to see a Black Ariel.
“I think in this case, many people are excited and proud to see a black girl chosen to play such an iconic Disney princess,” he said. “We can see a part of ourselves in this and it feels inspirational.”
Magruder co-signs his statement, saying “For a lot of people, this is a dream come true. A lot of people grew up with white mermaids, and now they’re seeing a representation of Ariel that is closer to their experience.
“But people are also excited for their kids, who are going to grow up with this black mermaid and black Disney princess,” she added.
The Little Mermaid reportedly goes into production next year.