Disney’s Freeform pens open letter defending ‘Little Mermaid’ casting

Disney’s Freeform is sending a message to those who’ve criticized filmmakers for casting Halle Bailey as the lead in the upcoming flick “The Little Mermaid.”

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The channel, Disney’s network aimed at teens and young adults, released a statement on its Instagram page over the weekend.

It began its letter by explaining Ariel, who Bailey will portray, is a mythical creature. It then addressed critics who claim the character is Danish and believe the actress playing her should not be black.

“Yes. The original author of ‘The Little Mermaid’ was Danish. Ariel...is a mermaid,” the post said. “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 ... Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair.”

“So after all this is said and done,” the statement continued, “and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn't look like the cartoon one,’ oh boy, do I have some news for you...about you.”

Last week, Disney announced Bailey, who is half of the Atlanta singing sister duo Chloe x Halle, would take on the lead role in the live action remake.

The singer and actress, who also stars in Freeform’s “grown-ish,” quickly became a trending topic online. Many said she should not have gotten the role because she doesn’t look like the cartoon version of “The Little Mermaid,” who is white.

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On the other hand, several praised Disney for its choice, applauding the organization for its diversity efforts. Some even posted art of Bailey as Ariel.

Neither Disney nor Bailey has responded to the controversy. However, Bailey has taken to Twitter to thank those who’ve congratulated her. She said playing Ariel is a “dream come true.”

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