Halle Bailey On Overcoming Racism After The Little Mermaid Casting: 'Just Keep Pushing'

Halle Bailey is revealing how she overcame racist criticism after being cast as Ariel in the upcoming live-action film The Little Mermaid

Chloe and Halle Bailey
Chloe and Halle Bailey for Teen Vogue. Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg for Teen Vogue

Halle Bailey is opening up about overcoming adversity after being cast as Ariel in the live-action The Little Mermaid.

The singer and actress, 20, appeared on the cover of Teen Vogue with her sister, Chloe, 21, while speaking about their upcoming album Ungodly Hour.

"We've always learned to just keep our heads up no matter the situation," Halle told the magazine. "No matter what anybody has to say about you... just keep pushing."

Halle was cast as Ariel in July 2019 after "an extensive search," by director Rob Marshall, who has previously directed Chicago.

"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," Marshall said in a statement at the time.

But Halle's casting came with internet criticism from those against the idea of a black woman in the role.

Chloe and Halle Bailey
Elizabeth Weinberg for Teen Vogue

Some even went so far as to start a petition titled #NotMyAriel to have Disney recast the character with a white actress resembling the red-headed underwater princess from the 1989 animated film. Fed up with the comments, Disney’s cable network Freeform responded with "An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls" who found an issue with Bailey’s casting.

Halle Berry also gave the young star support, writing on Twitter at the time, "In case you needed a reminder… Halles get it DONE. Congratulations on this amazing opportunity, we can’t wait to see what you do!"

Halle first rose to fame after she and Chloe caught the attention of Beyoncé after their rendition of "Pretty Hurts" in 2015. The two sisters make up the R&B duo ChloexHalle.

Last week, the sisters announced they were postponing the release of their sophomore album, Ungodly Hour, from June 5 to June 12 in honor of George Floyd and to reflect on the protests that erupted around the country to denounce police brutality against black communities.

Chloe and Halle Bailey
Chloe and Halle Bailey. Elizabeth Weinberg for Teen Vogue
Chloe and Halle Bailey
Chloe (top) and Halle Bailey (bottom). Elizabeth Weinberg for Teen Vogue

"Over these past few days we’ve been really angry and we’ve been hurting and physically shaken up over everything that’s been going on," Chloe said in a video they shared on Twitter. "With that being said, my sister and I felt like it was only right to postpone our album that was supposed to be coming this Friday, June 5 and we’ll be moving it to June 12."

"In honor of all the lives lost in police brutality, we felt like it was right to postpone, and fully shine our attention and our work on them," Chloe added.

Halle agreed, saying, "Music has been used for a long time to bring us joy and healing in difficult times like this."

"We’re all going through this together," she added.

Ungodly Hour is out tomorrow.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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