The Little Mermaid stars
From left: live action "Little Mermaid" star Halle Bailey, the 1989 cartoon, and "The Little Mermaid Live!" star Auli’i Cravalho. Freeform/Aaron Poole; Disney; ABC/Andrew Eccles


  • Halle Bailey said filming her water scenes for "The Little Mermaid" was the "most exhilarating" experience of her life
  • Bailey admitted that seeing the world's reaction to her casting was a "shock"
  • The singer-actress said the reaction of brown and Black young girls "really tore me up emotionally"

Halle Bailey got candid about her experience filming the live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid" and the backlash she received after bagging the role of Ariel.

Bailey shared with Us Weekly that she felt like she was actually part of the ocean world when she was filming her water scenes for the Rob Marshall-directed movie.

"I had a ton of water scenes. Like, for the shipwrecks, they'd turn on the wave machines and turn on the rain and thunder and you literally felt like you were in the middle of the ocean. ... Most exhilarating thing in my life," the 22-year-old singer-actress said Monday, admitting that the process was scary at times.

The "Grown-ish" alum previously opened up about the training she did to prepare for her role and the challenges she faced while filming during a 2022 Q&A on her YouTube channel.

"I was in intense physical training for three months and then every single day I'd either be up in the air on wires, in a harness, or I'd be in the water all day," Bailey said. "It's the most in shape I've ever been in my life. But that was the toughest part I think, having to be that strong."

In an interview with Edition published Monday, Bailey recalled how she felt seeing the reactions to her casting and the trailer for "The Little Mermaid," which gave the world the first look at "the ginger dreadlocked, brown-skinned representation of an iconic Disney princess."

"Seeing the world's reaction to it was definitely a shock," Bailey admitted before adding, "but seeing all the babies' reactions, all the brown and Black young girls, really tore me up emotionally."

She continued, "It's honestly been such a crazy ride, and I genuinely feel shocked and honored and grateful to be in this position. A lot of times, I have to pinch myself and be like, is this real life?"

Bailey told Us Weekly that the racist backlash from people who felt that a white actress should portray Ariel was "not really surprising" to her as "a Black woman in America."

But while she said that the hateful comments from trolls were "normal," she stressed that representation in film and television has the power to change the status quo.

"I'm so happy right now that other young Black women — especially Black and brown little babies — are gonna be able to see themselves on screen," she explained. "Representation is so very important and to other people it may seem so normal and like something that's not even a question because they've seen themselves in the media for years and that's never a question. The fact that this is all happening for us, and we get a chance to rally together and say we deserve to be in these spots as well, is something truly, truly special."

"The Little Mermaid" is slated to premiere on May 26.

Halle Bailey
Halle Bailey is pictured at a special “grown-ish” fan event in Atlanta in November 2018. Freeform/Guy D’Alema