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Who Plays Ariel In The Live-Action The Little Mermaid?

Throughout the past several years, many of Disney's beloved, classic cartoons have gotten the live-action treatment, and "The Little Mermaid" is next on the docket. The story of Ariel, a mermaid who sacrifices her voice for legs to finally join the human world — and woo a prince in the process — is one of Disney's most beloved. Now, lead actress Halle Bailey will introduce Ariel to an entirely new generation of kids.

With director Rob Marshall ("Chicago") at the helm, it was announced that Bailey would play Ariel in live action, which sparked some pretty nasty and totally gross outrage from a small sect of "fans." (The majority of real Disney fans, it should be said, were thrilled when we got our first look at Bailey as the titular mermaid.)

So where did this young star come from, and how did she snag this enormous role alongside Academy Award and Tony winners? Here's everything you need to know about Halle Bailey, who will bring Ariel to life in "The Little Mermaid."

Halle Bailey got her start in music

If you're plugged in to the recent pop music landscape, you probably remember that Halle Bailey started her career alongside her sister Chloe. The two went viral performing pop covers online, including a cover of Beyoncé's "Pretty Hurts," and before long, they started performing as Chloe x Halle. After an appearance on "The Ellen Show" that boosted their popularity, the young duo officially teamed up with Bey herself when she signed them to her company Parkwood Entertainment in 2016. Alongside contemporaries like Amandla Stenberg and Zendaya, they were featured in the music video for "Freedom," one of the many components of Beyoncé's visual album "Lemonade."

Chloe x Halle kept working pretty steadily with Beyoncé, opening for both her "Formation" tour and the "On the Run II" tour — which was also led by Jay-Z — and when the two sang "America the Beautiful" at the 2019 Super Bowl, Beyoncé showered them with praise. To date, they've released two studio albums: "The Kids Are Alright" in 2018, which earned two Grammy nods, and "Ungodly Hour" in 2020, which received three nominations.

Grown-ish was a big break for Halle Bailey

Both Chloe and Halle Bailey appeared on the ABC sitcom "grown-ish" — a spin-off of creator Kenya Barris' acclaimed series "black-ish" — which stars Shara Yahidi as Zoey Johnson, reprising her role from "black-ish" as she starts attending college and moves out of the family home. Alongside Yahidi, the Bailey sisters played twins Jazlyn "Jazz" Forster (Chloe Bailey) and Skyler "Sky" Forster (Halle Bailey).

Both of the Forsters sisters are brilliant in their own right; Jazz is a whip-smart economics major while Sky is focusing on early childhood education, and both of them are track athletes to boot. Throughout the series, they grow together and apart while trying to plan their ambitious futures, and though boyfriends can come between them, the twins still work in tandem to achieve their goals. Ultimately, Sky leaves the series at the end of Season 3 to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, and Bailey became a recurring character, while Jazz sticks around for another season before becoming a guest character.

What's next for Halle Bailey?

Beyond "The Little Mermaid," Halle Bailey has a bright future ahead of her as one of Hollywood's most in-demand and rising stars. Clearly, her talents extend beyond acting; her voice is stunning, which is obviously how she booked the role of Ariel in the first place. After "The Little Mermaid," she'll embark on yet another movie musical, albeit one that's much more mature than the Disney flick.

Bailey will appear in the 2023 adaptation of the beloved stage musical "The Color Purple," which itself is adapted from Alice Walker's 1982 novel. (A film featuring Oprah and Whoopi Goldberg and directed by Steven Spielberg was released in 1985, but wasn't the musical version.) In the tale of a Black woman living through slavery in the 1900s, Bailey will play Young Nettie, the younger version of Ciara's character, who is the sister of protagonist Celie (played in adulthood by Fantasia and in her youth by newcomer Phylicia Mpasi).

Who else is in The Little Mermaid?

So who will appear alongside Halle Bailey in "The Little Mermaid?" Well, she's flanked by a pretty outrageously talented cast, including award-winning actors you might not expect to see in a live-action Disney musical. 

Aside from relative newcomer Jonah Hauer-King, who will play Prince Eric to Bailey's Ariel, there are some seriously famous names in the cast of "The Little Mermaid." Melissa McCarthy, who introduced the film's trailer alongside Bailey at the 2023 Academy Awards, will vamp it up as the sea witch Ursula, while Oscar winner Javier Bardem will play Ariel's strict yet loving father King Triton. Tony winner Daveed Diggs ("Hamilton") will voice Sebastian the crab, "Room" breakout Jacob Tremblay will voice Flounder the tropical fish, and Golden Globe winner Awkwafina will provide the voice for Scuttle the bird. Finally, Noma Dumezweni ("Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," "The Watcher") will play Queen Selina, a brand new character.

When "The Little Mermaid" hits theaters, Bailey will be in good company, and we'll finally get to see her take on Ariel. The film releases on May 26, 2023.