Amid racist backlash toward Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid”, Halle Bailey just received some love from singer and actress, Stephanie Mills, who originated Dorothy in The Wiz on Broadway.
Mills took to Instagram to compare her experience on the seven-time Tony Award winning musical version of “The Wizard of Oz”, which had an all-Black cast, to what Bailey has been going through since news of her Ariel casting broke in July 2019.
“I know what this baby @hallebailey has been dealing with,” Mills began in the caption of her heartfelt post. “I got so much hate mail, I was told Judy Garland ‘is turning over in her grave’. All because a little black girl was playing a [role] that was once played by a white girl. It’s sad to see the same thing is happening to this beautiful, talented, smart and intelligent actress.
“Halle, God put you in this place and time….So let your light shine. Hold your head up high, walk in your peace, and celebrate the greatness that you are,” she continued. “They told me I would never make it on Broadway, they told me I couldn’t sing, they told me I was [too] dark, I have watched and listened to ‘they’ try to tell you why you shouldn’t and couldn’t. Well this weekend your movie comes out.”
The 66-year-old went on to say that she’s “so proud” of Bailey for how she’s “handled all the naysayers.
“We have never met, however I have been in your shoes,” she concluded. “Baby girl, let them know that this #LittleMermaid is made of teflon… Love, auntie SM.”
Mills’ post comes after Jodi Benson, the original voice behind Ariel in 1989’s “The Little Mermaid”, gave Bailey her seal of approval to Disney’s remake of the animated classic.
“Times change, people change, cultures change,” the actress told People of how the updates made in the film are extremely important to showcase our current society.
Meanwhile, Bailey herself has not been one to stay quiet as backlash over her casting endured. In February, the 23-year-old actress told The Face: “As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore.”
Then, in March, she told Entertainment Weekly that the “good outweighs all the bad,” referring to the contrary overwhelming response of young Black girls who’ve gleefully reacted to an Ariel they identify with.
“I just have to block out the noise,” she told the publication. “I don’t really see a lot of the comments. I choose to not read them, or delete Twitter, things like that, and just accept this moment for what it is, which is a big, beautiful blessing and opportunity for me.”