Ariel OG Jodi Benson defends Halle Bailey's casting in The Little Mermaid remake

The original voice of Ariel has defended Halle Bailey’s casting as the lead role in The Little Mermaid’s live action remake, amid cruel racist backlash.

Halle, 19, became the target of online trolls when it was announced last week that she has been chosen to take on Ariel in the new movie.

But OG Ariel Jodi Benson, who voiced the mermaid in the 1989 classic, has insisted she is all for Halle’s casting and argued the role is not about the ‘outside package’.

In fact, she thinks Halle perfectly captures the ‘spirit’ of Ariel, according to Comic Book.

‘I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters,’ Jodi said at Florida Supercon at the weekend.

‘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,’ she said. ‘We need to be storytellers.’

‘And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the colour of our skin, our dialect, whether I’m tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever colour, we really need to tell the story.’

Bailey is one half of singing duo Chloe x Halle – Beyonce’s protégés signed to her label.

And following in Queen Bey’s footsteps (Beyonce is playing Nala in the Lion King remake), Halle was confirmed to play Ariel last Wednesday in the film which will feature new songs from Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda.

The progressive casting has been celebrated by many – including stars like Halle Berry – but some users took issue with a POC actress portraying a character originally depicted as white.

It sparked the #NotMyAriel hashtag on Twitter, but Disney-owned cable channel Freeform have defended Halle’s casting, insisting: ‘The character of Ariel is a work of fiction.’

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