It was meant to be a moment of celebration for Halle Bailey.
When Disney and director Rob Marshall announced the the Grown-ish star and singer, one half of R&B duo Chloe x Halle, had landed the coveted role of Ariel in the studio's upcoming live-adaptation of The Little Mermaid, it was, without a doubt, a career high for the young girl who'd only been on the scene since her and sister Chloe Bailey's viral cover of "Pretty Hurts" drew the attention of Beyoncé herself and got the duo signed to the superstar's management company, Parkwood Entertainment, in 2015.
She'd be making her feature film debut in one of the studio's wildly-lucrative live-action adaptations, slipping on the iconic princess' tail as she dreamed of a life up on land far from her kingdom of Atlantica. She was, much like Ariel, on the cusp of being part of that world.
And then the trolls came out.
While there were those who applauded Disney's colorblind casting when it came to the character, there were others still who took to the internet to voice their displeasure at the idea of an African-American woman playing a character previously drawn as white. #NotMyAriel they wrote on Twitter, apparently overlooking the fact that their beloved character is, you know, an imaginary creature.
While Disney and Marshall haven't spoken about the racist backlash, Disney's Freeform (where Bailey stars on Grown-ish) shared an "open letter to the Poor, Unfortunate Souls" on their Instagram account, addressing the haters. "But spoiler alert - bring it back to the top - the character of Ariel is a work of fiction," the post read. "So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she 'doesn't look like the cartoon one,' oh boy, do I have some news for you...about you."
While Bailey's received the support of Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in the 1989 animated version, and Donald Glover, who knows a thing or two about adapting iconic Disney roles as he's the new voice of Simba in The Lion King—due in theaters on Friday, July 19—she can also take solace in the fact that she's far from the first person whose casting announcement by the iconic studio has caused a bit of controversy.
A release date for The Little Mermaid has yet to be announced.