Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

The Little Mermaid’s Latest Teaser Sparks Conversation about Equal Representation

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Temple chapter.

Although the trailer is short, every bit of it is worth the watch.

Another trailer for the highly anticipated remake of Disney’s 1989 film The Little Mermaid has just been released to awaiting fans. Though it clocks in at 29 seconds; every bit of it is worth the watch. This time we get a side profile look at Eric, played by English actor Jonah Hauer-King, and a look into the scathing pupils of the aquatic villain Ursula, played by Melissa McCarthy. Disney is giving us crumbs but who are we to not be appreciative of any new teasers we’re given?  

Disney’s newest vocal muse Halle Bailey, one half of the sisterly duo Chloe x Halle, is bound to be undoubtedly cosmic as our favorite underworld protagonist. Though her being cast as Ariel was announced in July of 2019, there’s still been an unnecessary uproar of both positive and negative remarks relating to Bailey playing a role that’s since been historically white.  

Many Disney princesses that have been white in the past have made some resurgences as Black women or women of color. Singer-Songwriter, Brandy Norwood played Cinderella in the 1997 remake of Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical adaption of the French fairytale. The cast was iconically dazzling and color-blind with Bernadette Peters and the late Whitney Houston, who also co-produced the film, among many others. That film was just an early representation of how the Black community and other underrepresented groups should be cast, regardless if they fit into the mold of Eurocentric or mainstream standards.  

Plenty of videos have gone viral of fan reactions to the initial teaser of The Little Mermaid, released in December of last year. Young Black girls were able to immediately identify with Halle’s bronzed skin and long dreadlocks, dyed red to match Ariel’s. “I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special and that they should be a princess in every single way. There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be. That reassurance was something that I needed” Bailey shared in an interview with Variety.  

Her want and need for reassurance comes as no surprise, as plenty of little Black girls don’t get the opportunity to see themselves often on screens in roles where the character is both Black and a princess, instead of someone who struggles relentlessly and gets no happy ending. Disney debuted their first Black princess with the release of Princess and The Frog in 2009 to rave reviews and was an instant box-office phenomenon. 14 years later, Princess Tiana is getting even more recognition as her first ride in Disneyland and Disney World has already been announced. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ride, formally Splash Mountain, is expected to open in late 2024. It will be complete with endearing touches of Tiana’s path to getting her restaurant, as was in her film.  

It doesn’t stop there, Tinkerbell is getting a bit of reimagining as well. Yara Shahidi, the former Black-ish star, will get her moment as the fussy pixie herself in the upcoming live-action film Peter Pan & Wendy, set to premiere late next month on Disney+. Like Bailey, Shahidi received praise and displeasure with her being cast in a role that’s always been taken on by white actresses.  

This comes as a harsh reality for plenty of Black creatives. Hardly any new roles are being written for Black actors and actresses who deserve a shot at creating their own legacy within the walls of Disney and beyond.  

Hadiyah is a Journalism major studying at Temple University. When she's not working on articles for various publications, she enjoys trying new restaurants and listening to music. Her two favorite things: pasta and Drake.