‘Little Mermaid’ director recalls facing racist backlash for casting Halle Bailey

Rob Marshall celebrates the representation of people in color Hollywood

Director Rob Marshall recently recalled being shocked by the racist comments he received for casting Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

The acclaimed director told Deadline he was surprised at the controversy that arose due to a woman of color being cast as Ariel, “I didn’t think that it was a big deal, casting a woman of color. I thought, ‘that’s an archaic way to see the world.’ “

The 62-year-old added, “When that controversy arose, from narrow-minded people, I thought, ‘Wow, that really feels like it’s coming from another century. Are we really still there?'”

Celebrating the representation of people of color, he said, “But the bonus that came with that casting, and I wasn’t aware of it at the time, is seeing these young girls of color and young boys of color looking at her and thinking, ‘Wow, I’m represented.'”

He also shed light on the scarcity of such representation in Hollywood saying, “We’re still developing and growing in that area.”

The Mary Poppins Returns director concluded by reflecting on how Ariel’s story is very relatable in modern times, “the whole time making the film, it felt like an antidote to this divided place we’re in, an important reminder that we’re really all one”.

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