'Seeing diversity in Disney movies is so important. Representation matters—just look at my daughters' faces,' one parent said.
Parents across the country have been sharing the joyous footage of their young Black daughters reacting to a Black actress portraying the role of Ariel in Disney's live-action "The Little Mermaid." The entertainment giant released a teaser of the highly-anticipated movie at its biennial expo over the weekend, debuting Halle Bailey—one half of the popular musical duo Chloe x Halle—as the first Black Ariel. While the teaser release saw an overwhelmingly positive reception from most viewers, both at the expo and online, it is the profound impact the short clip appears to have on young Black girls who finally saw themselves represented as one of the all-time classic Disney princesses that's warming the internet's collective heart.
‘The Little Mermaid’ Teaser With Halle Bailey Scores Over 104 Million Views (EXCLUSIVE) https://t.co/ZU2o8EgxdC— Variety (@Variety) September 12, 2022
One video shared on TikTok by the account @callmedarii shows two sisters—Rylie (2) and McKenzie (4)—lighting up when Bailey first appears on screen, singing "Part of Your World." Speaking to TODAY Parents, the girls' dad, William Fleming, shared that it was an emotional moment for their entire family. "My wife and I both had tears in our eyes," he said. "There's no question our kids were looking at the TV and thinking, 'She looks like me.' Seeing diversity in Disney movies is so important. Representation matters—just look at my daughters' faces."
Adelia Chaiyakul was also among those who took to social media to share how much this monumental landmark in the fight for representation means to Black youngsters. She revealed that she choked up watching her 9-year-old daughter, Ava, see Bailey as Ariel for the first time. "I was looking through her eyes as a younger me," Chaiyakul shared. "To see Ava seeing herself in Ariel, that was emotional." She added that Ava and her 5-year-old brother Ethan have watched "The Little Mermaid" teaser "dozens of times" since it was released. "Ava is so excited because her birthday is in May and that's when the movie is coming out," Chaiyakul said.
Dariyan Bell, another parent who filmed their child's reaction to the teaser, shared that her 3-year-old daughter Zavae was mesmerized by Bailey's vocals. "We were playing and she just stopped what she was doing. That's when I grabbed my phone and started taping. I never imagined it would have that much impact on a 3-year-old—but it did," she said. Bell, who revealed that Pocahontas was her favorite Disney character as a little girl because the character had darker skin, added: "Now, I love all the princesses, but in my head, Pocahontas was the one I could identify with. My daughter can truly see herself in Ariel."
Here are some more heartwarming videos of young Black girls reacting to the teaser, as shared by Twitter user @normanination4:
k i just sobbed watching this thanks 😭💕she’s so sweet ❣️ https://t.co/jKKdHkOvDe— Halle (@HalleBailey) September 11, 2022