Parents across the country are sharing joyful footage of their Black children reacting to Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid.”
The teaser that shows Bailey, 22, singing “Part of Your World” is short — just two minutes long — but it had a profound impact on many little girls, including Rylie Fleming.
In a video shared on TikTok, Rylie, 2, is shown lighting up with joy when she glimpses Halle on the screen.
“Wow,” Rylie gasps as she turns to her 4-year-old sister, McKenzie, who is also mesmerized by the scene.
Rylie’s dad, William Fleming told TODAY Parents that it was an emotional moment for their whole family.
“My wife and I both had tears in our eyes,” Fleming said. “There’s no question our kids were looking at the TV and thinking, ‘She looks like me.’”
“Seeing diversity in Disney movies is so important,” Fleming added. “Representation matters — just look at my daughters faces.”
Adelia Chaiyakul couldn’t agree more. Chaiyakul choked up while watching her 9-year-old daughter, Ava, meet Bailey as Ariel for the first time.
“I was looking through her eyes as a younger me,” Chaiyakul told TODAY. “To see Ava seeing herself in Ariel, that was emotional.”
She noted that Ava and her brother Ethan, 5, have watched “The Little Mermaid” trailer “dozens of times" now.
“Ava is so excited because her birthday is in May and that’s when the movie is coming out,” Chaiyakul said.
Dariyan Bell filmed her daughter Zavae, 3, transfixed by Bailey’s vocals.
“We were playing and she just stopped what she was doing,” Bell told TODAY. “That’s when I grabbed my phone and started taping. I never imagined it would have that much impact on a 3 year old — but it did."
Bell said when she was little, Pocahontas was her favorite Disney character because she had darker skin.
“Now, I love all the princesses, but in my head, Pocahontas was the one I could identify with,” she explained. "My daughter can truly see herself in Ariel."
“The Little Mermaid” remake is directed by Rob Marshall and is expected in theaters on May 26, 2023. It will feature four new songs by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Menken composed the original score with the late Howard Ashman. )
In August, Bailey, who grew up singing songs from the 1989 film, opened about what playing Ariel means to her.
“I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special, and that they should be a princess in every single way,” she revealed. “There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be. That reassurance was something that I needed.”