In the new ‘Little Mermaid,’ Black girls and moms see themselves – The Washington Post

    Parents say the videos highlight why it is important for kids to see people who look like them in movies and television shows. But for some Black moms, the moment was powerful in another way, allowing them to relive a piece of their childhood through a new lens.

    “The Little Mermaid” live-action film, set to release May 2023, will not be the first Disney movie with a Black princess. Princess Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog” made history as the first Black Disney princess in 2009, and the 1997 remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” in which singer Brandy Norwood took on the titular role, began streaming on Disney Plus last year.

    Dariana Fleming, 26, remembers how important it was to her to see Cinderella played by a Black woman as a child. Inspired by the videos of Black girls reacting to the “Little Mermaid” teaser, she decided to make her own. Her daughters Rylie, 2, and McKenzie, 4, smiled as they watched the first few seconds of the trailer. Their smiles turned to gasps and giggles as Bailey appeared on screen.

    Ashley Potts, 26, says she doesn’t talk about skin color with her 5-year-old daughter, London, but that it was clear that she was shocked to see an Ariel that looked like her. London already loved “The Little Mermaid,” and has an ever-growing collection of mermaid dolls, including a prized Ariel doll from Disneyland that she received for her birthday.

    “It’s so surreal that the mermaid I grew up with is going to grow up with my children in a whole other way,” said Dariyan Bell, a 30-year-old mother of five. In a video, which Bell posted on her TikTok account, Zavae, 3, suddenly stopped playing once she heard Bailey singing “Part of Your World.” Her back to her mother, Zavae is seemingly entranced by the image of Bailey on the screen.

    The outpouring of reactions from little Black girls has been a huge marketing boost for the film. But those feelings of delight and awe were not universal. The announcement of Bailey’s casting in 2019 was initially met with some backlash. Some critics on Twitter used #NotMyAriel and #NotMyMermaid hashtags to argue that the person chosen to play Ariel should have been White, like the story’s Danish author and in the original animation.

    Shows with White casts have historically been presented as appropriate for all audiences, Story said, while movies with Black actors and filmmakers were only targeted toward Black people. Yet showcasing more characters of color in television and films is more reflective of what the world looks like, she said.

    Adelia Chaiyakul, 31, said she also felt as though she was returning to her own childhood after viewing the “Little Mermaid” video with her 9-year-old daughter, Ava, who told her mother she was famous at school after her reaction video, in which she smiles and covers her mouth in shock upon seeing the new Ariel, went viral on TikTok.

    This content was originally published here.

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