Disney's Freeform Defends Halle Bailey's 'Little Mermaid' Casting in Open Letter to Critics

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Disney's Freeform, the company’s channel aimed at teens and young adults, released a statement on Saturday pushing back against the criticism Halle Bailey has received since fans learned that she got the lead in the upcoming Little Mermaid adaptation.

"Yes. The original author of The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel...is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy)," the post states. "But for the sake of argument, let's say that Ariel, too, is Danish. Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black. Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair."

"But spoiler alert - bring it back to the top - the character of Ariel is a work of fiction," the post adds. "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."

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An open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls: ______ #TheLittleMermaid #Ariel #MyAriel

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Bailey, who is half of the R&B group Chloe x Halle, is a series regular on Freeform’s original show, Grown-ish.

While some haters have pointed to the 19-year-old actress’ race as the reason she shouldn't be the next Ariel, she’s also received a wave of support from her peers.

"Yeeeeessss!!" Zendaya, 22, raved on Twitter. "Here for thiiiissss!! @chloexhalle." Chloe x Halle’s account wrote back: "I LOVE YOU! Thank you," prompting another response from the Spider-Man: Far From Home star: "Love you more!!! So freakin excited for you."

Halle Berry, who was briefly trending when fans thought she got the gig, also chimed in, writing, “In case you needed a reminder... Halles get it DONE. Congratulations @chloexhalle on this amazing opportunity, we can’t wait to see what you do! #TheLittleMermaid #HalleBailey.”

Once again, the Chloe x Halle account wrote back: “this means the world. happy to share names with you love you lots.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mariah Carey, Janelle Monae and more have since chimed in to offer Bailey their support and congratulations.

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