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Why Queen Selina In The Little Mermaid Looks So Familiar

Disney's trend of remaking its animated classics as live-action blockbusters is set to continue with "The Little Mermaid." The story centers around Ariel (Halle Bailey), a mermaid princess who strikes a deal with an evil sea queen so that she can walk among humans and impress a handsome prince in the process. That's the general plot, but Ariel's adventures will also bring her into contact with Queen Selina, played by Noma Dumezweni.

The inclusion of Selina suggests that "Little Mermaid" won't be a carbon copy remake of the original film. Selina is the mother of Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), and she's a brand new character who was created specifically for the latest rendition of Disney's seafaring musical adventure. This should add a fresh dynamic to a story that most Disney aficionados are more than familiar with at this point.

"Little Mermaid" is arguably Dumezweni's biggest role to date, too. However, it isn't her first time appearing in a Disney project, and some people will have spotted her on a couple of notable TV and streaming series as well.

The Little Mermaid isn't Noma Dumezweni's first Disney movie

Noma Dumezweni began her acting career working in theater and British television, but she appeared on the wider map after playing Hermione Grainger in the play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." She also had roles on "Doctor Who" and various popular British soaps, though her big break arguably came in 2018 when she was cast in Disney's "Mary Poppins Returns," which was helmed by "Little Mermaid" director Rob Marshall.

In the movie, Dumezweni plays Miss Penny Farthing, the secretary of Colin Firth's corrupt antagonist, William "Weatherall" Wilkins. It's a small part in the grand scheme of things, but her performance impressed Marshall so much that he gave her a call when "Little Mermaid" started coming together. As she told Collider, "Rob was like, 'We want you to come back because we enjoyed you [in 'Mary Poppins Returns']." The rest is, as they say, history.

Noma Dumezweni stole the show on The Undoing

HBO miniseries "The Undoing" recruited A-listers such as Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant to spearhead its tale of murder and mystery, but Noma Dumezweni's performance really resonated with viewers. David E. Kelley's mystery-thriller series sees her play a no-nonsense lawyer called Haley Fitzgerald, who gets tasked with defending Grant's character after he gets accused of murder.

"The Undoing" is full of twists and turns, many of which leave viewers wondering whose side to take. However, most fans agree that Dumezweni's outing as the stoic lawyer was sublime. Her performance was so strong that it even led to the character becoming a meme sensation, and some notable figures — including South African politician Lindiwe Mazibuko — shared their praise for the star on social media.

Dumezweni was blown away by the positive reaction to her performance on the whodunit series, noting that many viewers seemed to identify with Fitzgerald. "I'm just overwhelmed with how people have met Haley," she told Glamour. "They really responded to her."

Noma Dumezweni helped ground The Watcher

Noma Dumezweni teamed up with Ryan Murphy in 2022 for "The Watcher," a real-life-inspired Netflix miniseries with a horrific twist. The story chronicles a family that moves into their dream home only to discover that they've walked into a nightmare. The neighbors seem quite off, and shortly after settling in, the family starts receiving sinister letters and disturbing threats.

Dumezweni plays Theodora Birch, an eccentric jazz singer-turned-private detective who's hired to get to the bottom of the case. She's an important character who helps ground an unpredictably wild story that occasionally strays off the rails — a beacon of sense in the mad world that is "The Watcher" — but she does have some interesting quirks, such as being addicted to murder cases.

"The Watcher" is another series that established Dumezweni as a star to keep an eye on, and she'll undoubtedly be cast in more noteworthy projects following "Little Mermaid."