Donald Glover is rallying behind Halle Bailey amid criticism over her casting in Disney’s upcoming The Little Mermaid live-action reboot.
Last week, debates were sparked online after it was announced that the singer of R&B duo Chloe x Halle, a black woman, will play Ariel. Critics maintain that the character should be white and red-headed like the 1989 animated character. Others accuse naysayers of simply being racist.
Donald, who is also black, weighed in on Halle’s casting in The Little Mermaid in an interview with E! News’ Zuri Hall.
“I thought that was so special,” the actor said on Tuesday at the premiere of Disney’s live-action reboot of The Lion King, in which he portrays adult Simba. “We were just watching that film and I’m like, that’s such a great story but I’m just like, I dunno, I just hope that she’s like having fun and don’t let anybody make you feel the opposite of how you want to feel. It’s a very special role and you earned it, so I hope you’re listening.”
Halle, 19, also attended the Lion King premiere, although she was not spotted with Donald. She attended the event with her band mate and sister Chloe Bailey, 21. Halle posed for a photo with Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger at the premiere.
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While Disney has not commented directly on the criticism over the Little Mermaid casting, on Saturday, an “open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls” was posted on the Instagram account of the company’s cable network Freeform.
“The character of Ariel is a work of fiction,” the post read. “So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she ‘doesn’t look like the cartoon one,’ oh boy, do I have some news for you…about you.”
Last month, E! News confirmed that Melissa McCarthy was in early talks to play Ursula the sea witch in the new The Little Mermaid film. In addition, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina are being eyed for the roles of Flounder and Scuttle. A release date for the new movie has not been announced.