Review: Here’s what the new ‘The Little Mermaid’ movie will mean to Black girls everywhere

The 2023 remake of “The Little Mermaid” is set to hit theatres on Friday, May 26. (Courtesy: Halle Bailey/ Instagram)


When I was growing up I was obsessed with Disney princesses. 

Whether by choice or because that’s just what little girls occupied their time with, we’ll never know. 

But one thing I know for sure, is that none of the princesses ever looked like me.

When I caught myself in the mirror I didn’t see fair skin and perfectly combed hair like my dolls had. Instead, I saw darker skin and naturally curly hair, sometimes too wild to tame. 

By the time the first-ever Black Disney princess was revealed as Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, I was 12 years old and the magic was pretty much gone.

Or so I thought.

Fast forward and the year is 2023, and there is another Black Disney princess, and for some reason this one hits differently.

(Courtesy: Halle Bailey/ Instagram)

I think what makes “The Little Mermaid” live-action adaptation so special is that they didn’t create a new princess, they just gave an old one a new look, a look we never thought we’d see. 

Until now.

Halle Bailey, who plays the lead Ariel in the movie, had big shoes to fill, and after watching the film for myself, I can confidently say she’ll need a bigger size.

Last week, I had the opportunity to check out Bailey’s under the sea performance at the Canadian Premiere in Toronto.

Originally released in 1989, the classic Disney film tells the tale of Ariel, a mermaid with a beautiful singing voice, who falls in love with a human prince. In order to be with her love, Ariel makes a deal with a sea witch to become human for three days. The catch is Ariel has to exchange her voice for the chance to walk on land.

 Although there are no juicy spoilers to share, what might come as a surprise to many is how perfect Bailey is for this role.

What this means is the conversation won’t be about how well they got the story right, but more so how the talented actress and singer was able to play this character so effortlessly no matter what her skin colour is.

The truth is, she’s the perfect Ariel and an amazing role model for young Black girls everywhere. 

Throughout the film she shines, in part thanks to that Black-girl glow she was born with, but also because she acts as a seasoned mermaid.

But in the end, it was her singing that stole the show and is a guaranteed tearjerker. 

Hearing “Part of Your World” on the big screen will have many in tears but it’s mostly thanks to Bailey’s unique spin on it and incredible vocal range.

Although Bailey is the one to watch, her co-stars make their mark on the film as well.

Jacob Tremblay, who voices “Flounder” was a great addition to the remake and told Now Toronto on the carpet that hearing Bailey sing for the first time was the most memorable moment he had on set.

READ MORE: ‘Gave me goosebumps’: Jacob Tremblay shares that hearing Halle Bailey sing for the first time as ‘Ariel’ was the most special moment on set

For those who have a Black daughter who wants to see herself reflected back at her, this is the movie for her.

And Black mothers will also see themselves represented. That’s because Prince Eric’s mother is Black in the film and there’s a special mother-in-law and daughter-in-law moment between Ariel and the queen. 

The Little Mermaid’ hits theatres on Friday, May 26.



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