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Lin-Manuel Miranda on backlash to ‘Little Mermaid’ casting: ‘Halle Bailey is a perfect Ariel’

Associated Press/Julia Nikhinson
Lin-Manuel Miranda appears at the Clinton Global Initiative, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda said Halle Bailey is the “perfect” choice to portray the lead character Ariel in the new Disney “Little Mermaid” film.

During an appearance on “CNN Tonight,” host Jake Tapper asked Miranda, who was tapped to be one of the music composers for the film, about his thoughts on the backlash the film received for its casting decisions. 

Disney released the official trailer for the live action adaption of the 1989 cartoon film last month. Some online criticized the decision to cast Bailey, a Black actress and singer, to portray the main character of Princess Ariel.

Bailey, 22, was cast in 2019. The film is slated to be released in May. 

“And frankly, Halle Bailey is a perfect Ariel. And Rob Marshall, I thought, showed incredible foresight to cast her. I’ve seen the dailies, so I know how good she is. You know, to give oxygen to a very small minority of people who, you know, hate any kind of change is to me counterproductive,” Miranda told Tapper. “Because the overwhelming majority of what I saw was my goodness, she looks and sounds incredible in that trailer.”

Miranda, who became a household name in the last decade from the popularity of his musical play “Hamilton,” also shared his excitement about composing new songs for the film, telling Tapper how the film brought him joy during his childhood and noting it was responsible for him entering the entertainment industry. 

“Yeah, I saw a little mermaid when I was 9 years old. I went on a playdate with a friend. I could not believe when under the sea began that I was watching a musical number underwater, and it’s probably as responsible for me writing musicals as anything else,” Miranda added. “It has been the great honor of my life to get to write four new songs — lyrics for four new songs with Alan Menken for this new version.” 

Bailey also responded to the backlash during a Q&A session posted on her YouTube channel last month, saying that she’s grateful for the opportunity to portray a “Black Ariel.” 

“And even still today with all of the commentary and people’s opinions going on, it just reminds me to be, number one, grounded and grateful that I have this opportunity,” Bailey said.  “And the fact that it’s sparking such a discussion for all of us … I mean, I know what it would’ve meant to me as a little girl to have been able to see a Black Ariel.”

Tags CNN Halle Bailey Halle Bailey Jake Tapper Jake Tapper lin-manuel miranda Lin-Manuel Miranda little mermaid Walt Disney Co.

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