SNL's Ego Nwodim Plays Ariel the Little Mermaid on Show Amid Disney Movie Controversy

As fans continue to debate the casting of Halle Bailey in Disney's live-action Little Mermaid remake, Ego Nwodim portrays the character on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.

By Corinne Heller Oct 09, 2022 7:39 PMTags
Watch: 32 Years Under the Sea With "The Little Mermaid": Live From E! Rewind

Don't call the new Little Mermaid "Black Ariel," Saturday Night Live says.

The casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's upcoming live-action remake in 2019 has since sparked debate, with critics unhappy that the role, portrayed as white in the 1989 animated film, did not go to a white actress. The news, and a recently released first teaser showing the star singing "Part of Your World," has also inspired a new generation to dress up as Ariel. On NBC's SNL Oct. 8, cast member Ego Nwodim portrayed the character on Weekend Update.

"Disney recently made history after announcing the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid featuring a Black Ariel," co-host Colin Jost said. "Here to comment is Black Ariel."

Ego then joined the anchor desk in a Little Mermaid costume. "Thanks so much Colin," she said. "You know, you can just call me Ariel. I don't call you White Colin. To your face."

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Colin then told her character that "some people online are now calling you a hero and a role model," to which she replied, "Role model to who? Black girls who want to be a fish?"

She continued, "I gotta be honest, Colin, it's a lot of pressure. People are all like, 'Oh, Ariel, you're perfect. You're the hero we need.' Bitch, I am normal."

Ego's Ariel then went on to detail some of her weaknesses and personal faults, such as growing up [Jeff] Bezos-rich and riding on "poor people" seahorses "for fun," being so "stupid-stupid" that she's always falling for a worm on a hook and being "pro-SeaWorld."

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Directed by Rob Marshall, The Little Mermaid also stars Melissa McCarthy as villain Ursula, Javier Bardem as Ariel's father King Triton, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Hamilton's Daveed Diggs as Sebastian the crab, Awkwafina as Scuttle the seagull and Little Women actor Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric.

"It has been the toughest experience being away from everything and everyone i've ever known, to feeling self doubt/ loneliness, but also feeling such freedom and perseverance as i've reached the end," Halle wrote on Instagram in July, regarding time filming The Little Mermaid. "This experience has made me so much stronger than i ever thought i could be."

In September, Halle talked to E! News at the D23 Expo about how Disney's animated Little Mermaid film inspired her. "I definitely think that because I love this movie so much, and I've treasured it since I was a little girl, I did put a bit of pressure on myself," she said. "Just because I want to deliver all of the feels that I saw when I was a little girl."

(E! and NBC are part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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