Halle Bailey addresses racist backlash over 'The Little Mermaid'

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid. (Disney © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc.)

The Little Mermaid's Halle Bailey has said playing Ariel taught her to believe in herself and know she is "worthy", after her casting sparked a racist backlash.

The 22-year-old is starring as the mermaid in Disney's live-action version of the 1989 animated classic.

But after the trailer was unveiled she faced racist trolling from people questioning a Black star playing the character.

Read more: Halle Bailey shares first look at The Little Mermaid remake as filming wraps

Speaking in a video on YouTube, Bailey said making the movie taught her to "believe in myself".

She also said that if she'd seen a Black Ariel when she was little it would have changed her "whole outlook on life".

Halle Bailey arrives at the American Music Awards on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Halle Bailey said she has learned she is 'worthy'. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

"It was a big 'moral of the story' moment for me when I wrapped, because I dedicated so much time, blood, sweat, and tears into this work for this film," she said.

"In the process I learned so much about myself.

"I remember at the very, very beginning of filming I was way more timid than I was coming out of it.

"So I kind of felt like I grew with Ariel’s character in a way and that makes me really happy so yes, I think that was kind of the biggest takeaway for me is just to believe in myself and know that I’m worthy.’

The original film was released in 1989. (Disney)
The original film was released in 1989. (Disney)

Actor and singer Bailey also opened up all the talk about her role.

"Even still today like with all of the commentary and people’s opinions going on, it just reminds me to be number one grounded and grateful that I have this opportunity and the fact that it’s sparking such a discussion like this for all of us," she said.

"I mean, I know what it would’ve meant to me as a little girl to have been able to see a Black Ariel.

"When I was younger, if I would’ve seen that, it would have changed my whole outlook on life."

The star said the fact she was getting to do that was "really cool and unbelievable".

"The little girl inside of me is screaming and freaking out," she said.

Bailey also thanked fans for their support.

Read more: Little Mermaid and Lion King animator Ann Sullivan dies of coronavirus

The Little Mermaid - which also stars Javier Bardem, Jacob Tremblay, Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina and Daveed Diggs - is due to be released in 2023.

Watch: Rachel Zegler defends Halle Bailey's casting in The Little Mermaid in response to troll