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Original Voice Actor Of “The Little Mermaid” Weighs In On “Ariel” Casting Controversy

The Original Ariel Supports Halle Bailey Last Thursday, Disney announced that Halle Bailey, an African-American actress, had accepted the role of Ariel in the upcoming live-action version of the...

(Photo Credit: Kevin Winters/Getty Images)

The Original Ariel Supports Halle Bailey

Last Thursday, Disney announced that Halle Bailey, an African-American actress, had accepted the role of Ariel in the upcoming live-action version of the 1989 animated film “The Little Mermaid.” The announcement prompted a backlash from online trolls, who started a trending Twitter hashtag, #notmyariel, to voice their displeasure with the fact that Bailey did not look like the animated Ariel. In the animated film, Ariel had light skin, red hair, and blue eyes.

But other celebrities swooped in to defend Bailey – including Jodi Benson, the voice of the original Ariel.

“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,” Benson said at Supercon, a Florida cosplay convention. “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 went on to say that it was Ariel’s story, not her skin color, that really mattered. Disney itself clapped back at the online haters, calling them “Poor, unfortunate souls.”

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