Who is The Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey?

Meet the latest live-action Disney princess

Halle Bailey at the Australian premiere of The Little Mermaid
Halle Bailey at the Australian premiere of The Little Mermaid. (Getty Images)

Halle Bailey has officially landed as Disney’s latest live-action princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid, which swims into cinemas today (Friday, 26 May).

Director Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the studio’s 1989 animated classic sees Bailey take on an iconic voice role made famous by Jodi Benson in a story following a teenage mermaid that falls for a human man.

Read more: Halle Bailey is a powerhouse in The Little Mermaid remake

Starring opposite an ensemble cast that boasts the likes of Melissa McCarthy as the evil Ursula and Javier Bardem as King Triton, Bailey's first leading role in a big-screen feature has already been met with glowing reviews.

That said, who is the star at the centre of Disney's new take on The Little Mermaid? And what was her road to becoming an underwater princess?

Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid
The 23-year-old rising star plays Ariel in the new Disney film. (Disney)

Apart from having a name so similar to Halle Berry’s that the Oscar winner chipped in with a comment on Twitter, the 23-year-old started her career as a rising star of the music scene who can credit her success to a certain pop superstar who helped to catalyse her visibility.

Bailey and her older sister Chloe rose to fame after performing covers of pop songs on YouTube. When their version of Beyoncé’s 2014 hit Pretty Hurts went viral, the duo drew the attention of the woman herself.

Soon the duo, performing under the name Chloe x Halle, were signed by Beyoncé’s management company Parkwood Entertainment and made a cameo in her 2016 visual album Lemonade.

A number of EPs soon followed and the pair performed America the Beautiful at the Super Bowl in 2019, as well as opening for Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z on various tours.

Read more: All the Disney live-action remakes in development

The duo have appeared on a number of movie soundtracks, including providing the original song Warrior for Disney blockbuster A Wrinkle in Time.

Both have also taken on acting work, with the duo appearing together in Queen Latifah vehicle Last Holiday in 2006, as well as in recurring roles on Black-ish spin-off series Grown-ish.

The Little Mermaid is certainly the biggest role either of them has taken on to date, and back when the news first broke in 2019, Bailey described it as a “dream come true”.

Halle Bailey as Ariel and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid
She stars opposite Jonah Hauer-King, the live-action Prince Eric. (Disney)

Disney will be hoping The Little Mermaid will be its latest live-action remake success, with Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King already scoring solid numbers in previous years.

The film’s May 2023 arrival sees The Little Mermaid follow the studio’s recent live-action Disney+ release Peter Pan & Wendy, which debuted in late April. It joins other live-action remakes including 2022’s Pinocchio, 2021’s Cruella, 2020’s Mulan and Lady and the Tramp and sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, both of which were released in 2019.

Veteran Disney composer Alan Menken has joined forces with Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda to pen new music for the movie after Miranda previously contributed songs to Disney hit Moana. Meanwhile, Bailey, already a seasoned singer, has recorded tracks for the movie’s soundtrack.

Director Marshall has years of experience in movie musicals, having helmed the Oscar-winning Chicago, as well as directing Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns for Disney.

Looking ahead, Bailey can next be seen in director Blitz Bazawule’s musical remake of The Color Purple, the coming-of-age drama based on author Alice Walker's book of the same name.

She’ll be glimpsed again in filmmaker Ethan Berger’s fraternity drama The Line. However, with no solid release date details revealed, we’re not yet sure when this performance will arrive.

The Little Mermaid is out in UK cinemas now.