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This Special Showing of ‘The Little Mermaid’ Features a Majority Black Cast

Disney certainly appears committed to its path of inclusion and diversity in its retellings and remakes of movies. As many Disney Fanatics already know, Disney recently cast Black actress and singer Halle Bailey as Princess Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid set for theatrical release in May of this year, and the stunning Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell in live-action remake of the animated classic, Peter Pan, set for a straight-to-streaming release on Disney+ this April, Peter Pan and Wendy. Both of these decisions had Disney on the receiving end of much backlash and criticism, with many believing the growing sentiment that the Walt Disney Company is increasingly “pandering to woke audiences.”

Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Tinker Bell from Peter Pan

Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Tinker Bell from Peter Pan / Courtesy of Disney

The latest story in this vein is Disney’s efforts to “honor Black representation and celebrate Disney’s Black princesses and their stories” aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wish.  The entire ship celebrated is a stunning example of Black representation per Travel Noire.

As they shared,

The hallways near the Untangled Salon are home to artwork featuring beautiful Black children dressed as princesses and princes. The ship also has a The Bayou lounge, inspired by Disney’s first animated Black princess, Tiana, and her hometown, New Orleans.

Rachel Fobbs as Ursula in the Disney Cruise Line 'The Little Mermaid' performance

Rachel Fobbs as Ursula in the Disney Cruise Line ‘The Little Mermaid’ performance / Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Wish cruise ship has also been showing The Little Mermaid since 2022, and as the outlet reported, Princess Ariel’s understudy, the crab Sebastian, and Princess Ariel’s arch nemesis Ursula were played by Black women and men. Rachel Fobbs plays Ursula, Montel Butler plays Sebastian, and Disney Cruise Line veteran Janae Hammond also was onboard, playing Princess Tiana.

Travel + Noire spoke with Rachel Fobbs, who shared her excitement about Disney’s latest controversial decisions, “I feel like Disney’s very conscious decision to reflect the world we live in and let every child see themselves on the stage. It’s exciting to be a part of that vision and this new age of what Disney is all about.” She said.

Halle Bailey, The Little Mermaid

Halle Bailey plays Ariel the little mermaid in the upcoming live-action adaptation of the 1989 film. The Disney and Rob Marshall movie also stars Javier Bardem as King Triton and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula. Credit: Disney

Fobbs also added, “This is a new retelling of The Little Mermaid. It’s more modern and more focused on Ariel finding her voice and identity in this world. ”

It’s certainly heartwarming to see so many people excited at seeing themselves represented on stage.

About Priyanka

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.