OG Ariel Jodi Benson lauds Halle Bailey’s ‘Little Mermaid’


Original Ariel Jodi Benson had nothing but praise for Halle Bailey after footage from Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” debuted this weekend at the D23 Expo.

On Sunday, Benson deemed the highly anticipated movie musical “stunning” while lauding Bailey’s “beautiful performance as Ariel” via Instagram. Benson famously voiced the rebellious sea princess in the 1989 animated classic of the same name.

During its annual convention in Anaheim, Disney unveiled a clip of Bailey singing “Part of Your World” as Ariel in the film, which is expected to hit theaters next year. A shortened version of the “Part of Your World” sequence was also released Friday as part of Disney’s teaser trailer for the film.

“Halle, you were absolutely amazing!” Benson wrote on Instagram. “I’m SO proud of you… it was so wonderful to celebrate with your family here at #d23expo.”

Benson also gave a shout-out to her longtime friend Rob Marshall, who directed Bailey in the new “Little Mermaid.”

“So thrilled!!!!” she said. “So excited!!!!”

“Thank you so much @JodiBenson,” Bailey wrote back. “This means the world to me coming from you! You made Ariel magical for us.”

Benson has been a vocal supporter of Bailey since the Chloe x Halle singer was tapped to play Ariel in June 2019. After Bailey’s casting was met with a racist backlash online, Benson told Comicbook.com that “no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin … we really need to tell the story.

“I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters,” she added. “What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart and their spirit is what really counts.”

Judging by Benson’s acclaim, Bailey seems to have successfully embodied Ariel’s spirit for a new generation. After the “Little Mermaid” teaser trailer came out, several parents shared heartwarming videos of their young daughters watching Bailey onscreen as Ariel for the first time.

On Twitter, @normanination4 compiled a viral thread “of the little Black kids who are excited to see their favorite princess look like them.”

“k i just sobbed watching this thanks,” Bailey replied to one video of a little Black girl reacting to “the real Ariel” with wide eyes and a big smile. “she’s so sweet.”

Rounding out the main cast of Disney’s “Little Mermaid” revival are Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Awkwafina as Scuttle and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric. The adaptation will also feature new original songs written by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda.


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