After a week of heavy speculation about the fates of roles like noted sea-witch Ursula —and the confirmed casting of established names like Crazy Rich Asians co-star Awkwafina in the role of flustered seabird Scuttle—Disney has now announced the new actor who’ll be playing adventurous sea-princess Ariel in its upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid: Halle Bailey, half of R&B duo Halle & Chloe.
Bailey (and her sister Chloe) will be best known to TV audiences for their co-starring role in the Black-ish spinoff Grown-ish . This isn’t her first time busting out some tunes for Disney, either; she and her sister also provided a song for Ava DuVernay’s Wrinkle In Time. (Oh, and they’re friends with Beyoncé, who discovered the sisters after they posted covers of her songs online, in case you needed another touchpoint of Disney live-action royalty charm.)
Director Rob Marshall issued a statement about the casting today, noting that, “After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance—plus a glorious singing voice—all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.” Presumably, the now-standard “Fuck off, racists” to anybody already typing themselves into apoplexy about the fact that this particular take on everyone’s favorite dinglehopper user isn’t a white woman is simply implied.