Back in 2019, the triple threat performer’s casting in the adaptation sparked racist backlash online, with people complaining that she didn’t look like Disney’s original 1989 version of Ariel, who was drawn as a caucasian cartoon.
Now in a new interview, the 23-year-old revealed that she used her grandparents’ experience of living in the deep south to help her to overcome the deluge of social media negativity.
Despite being “shocked” by the negative response, Bailey insisted that it was nowhere near as bad as the “horrendous” racism her family has experienced.
She shared: “When the negative comments started, I was shocked, because it wasn’t something I really anticipated – at least not on that scale.
“Then I started to think, ‘I’m from the deep south, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve experienced racism’.”
“My nana used to see her family cotton picking and my grandpa remembers ‘whites only’ water fountains,” she told the Sunday Mirror.
“When I think of the horrendous experiences they had, it makes a hashtag and some online hate seem totally inconsequential.”
Bailey was announced as Ariel in July 2019. Since filming wrapped, the singer’s co-stars have praised her turn as the land-loving mermaid.
Jonah Hauer-King, who plays Prince Eric in the feature, told the Standard recently: “She’s so great.
“Halle looked after me. I tried to look after her – not that she needed it – but I really leaned on her a lot. She felt like a sister to me at the end of it and still does.
“She carries the film and it’s such a challenging role because it means so much to so many people – you need the acting chops, the spirit, the charm and you need the voice. All of which she has.”
The Little Mermaid hits UK cinemas on May 26