Jodi Benson, the actress who voiced Ariel in the 1989 animated flick The Little Mermaid, recently came forward in defence of the casting of Halle Bailey in Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation.
At Florida Supercon on Saturday (July 6), Benson addressed the backlash against the casting by lending her support to Bailey. “The most important thing is to tell the story. And we have, as a family, we have raised our children, and for ourselves, that we don’t see anything that’s different on the outside,” the actress said, via Comicbook.com.
She later emphasised that what actually mattered was the “spirit of a character” and not the looks. “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,” Benson explained.
Benson’s support of Bailey comes after the latter was the target of salvos hurled online following Disney’s reveal. Several fans had complained that Bailey’s ethnicity wasn’t a true representation of Ariel.
In a statement made during the casting announcement, director Rob Marshall said that Bailey was a front-runner for the role from the get-go, according to Variety. “After an extensive search, 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.
The Little Mermaid remake is currently in pre-production stages and is still on a search for its Prince Eric, which, if BTS fans had their way, would be Jimin. On the other hand, Little Mix fans have petitioned for Jesy Nelson to star as Sebastian the crab, thanks to her viral attempt at a Jamaican accent.