Disney’s plan to remake all their classic animations into live-action adaptations have been well received so far, with Beauty and The Beast, The Jungle Book, Dumbo, and Aladdin, all being box-office successes. With The Lion King scheduled for release soon, Disney set their sights to getting production for their next adaptation – The Little Mermaid, – underway.
Casting Halle Bailey as Ariel has been met with a lot of negative criticism (further below), due to her being of African-American descent when the original character is a Caucasian with red flowing hair. However, the original voice-over actress of the Disney‘s mermaid character, Jodie Benson, urged fans to calm down with the comments because the characters are more about heart and spirit than the colour of their skin.
Read her statement below. (via The DisInsider)
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.
We need to be storytellers. And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to 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.
Check out some of the negative reactions to Ariel’s casting below: