"I think the most important thing is to tell the story," Jodie Benson said at the pop culture convention

By Ale Russian
July 09, 2019 11:34 AM

Halle Bailey has the nod of approval from the original Ariel.

The Chloe x Halle singer, 19, was cast as the singing mermaid in Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Reacting to racist Internet comments about her casting, Jodie Benson, the original voice of Ariel in the 1989 animated classic, praised Disney’s decision while recently attending Florida Supercon.

“I think the most important thing is to tell the story,” Benson said at the pop culture convention, as seen in a video on Instagram posted by user part.of.my.disney.world.. “We have, as a family, raised our children and for ourselves that we don’t see anything that’s different on the outside. 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.”

RELATED: Halle Bailey, Disney’s New Little Mermaid, Shares Her Excitement Over Role: It’s a ‘Dream Come True’

“We need to be storytellers,” Benson continued. “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.”

Disney’s cable network Freeform addressed the racist comments with “An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls,” posted to Instagram.

“Yes. The original author of The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel…is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy),” the post read. “But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Ariel, too, is Danish.”

“Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black,” the letter continued. “Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair.”

RELATED: Halle Bailey, Disney’s New Little Mermaid, Shares Her Excitement Over Role: It’s a ‘Dream Come True’

Bailey expressed her excitement for her new role with a post on Twitter after her casting was revealed by Disney last Wednesday.

“Dream come true…,” she tweeted alongside the image of an Indian-American Ariel singing “Part of Your World” while waves crashed behind her.

Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay are in talks to star as Scuttle and Flounder, respectively. Melissa McCarthy is also in talks to star as the sea witch Ursula.

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