Jodi Benson, the original voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, is standing up for Halle Bailey, the actress who will play the same character in the live-action version of the film.
According to Entertainment Tonight, Jodi spoke up at a convention over the weekend, following the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Jodi says the most important thing to do is tell the story.
“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.”
Jodi went on to talk about how the size, color, or dialect of a person doesn’t matter. Instead, it’s the storytelling and the spirit of the character that Disney needs to convey.
According to Entertainment Tonight, Jodi also made an interesting comparison. The actress explained that she is older now, and if one were to look at her from the outside while she sings, they may judge the meaning of the song by her appearance. However, if one were to close their eyes and just listen, they would still “hear the spirit of Ariel.”
Jodi made it clear that she is more interested in talent than anything else when it comes to the casting of a character.
As it turns out, Jodi isn’t the only one who’s speaking up and supporting Halle through the backlash she’s facing. TV channel Freeform and actress Keke Palmer also spoke up for her, Entertainment Tonight says.
Freeform shared a long post on social media where they talked about the fact that although the writer of The Little Mermaid was Danish, Ariel is a mermaid — a fictional creature which can appear similar to whatever race the writers desire.
“Yes. The original author of ‘The Little Mermaid’ was Danish. Ariel… is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy),” the broadcasters wrote in a social media post.
Per Entertainment Tonight, Keke Palmer also spoke up to support Halle. Keke played the first African American Cinderella in the Broadway version of the film. She addressed viewers, asking if an African American mermaid is too unrealistic. Then, Keke pointed out that the original movie features a talking crab. So, if an African American mermaid is too unrealistic, what about the talking crab?
Entertainment Tonight says there are several celebrities showing support, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zendaya, and Mariah Carey.