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Why Rachel Zegler Was ‘Inspired’ By Halle Bailey Proving Haters Wrong (And How The Little Mermaid Star Did It)

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Rachel Zegler and Halle Bailey’s roads to Disney stardom have been less than a fairytale. The young actresses—who portray The Little Mermaid and Snow White in their respective titular live-action films (though the latter will not hit theaters until 2025)—made history when they were cast as two of the House of Mouse’s most iconic princesses,. However, their boundary-breaking castings have also sparked criticism and backlash among Disney die-hards. 

Though many Disney fans rejoiced at the racial diversity of a “Black Ariel” and Zegler’s casting as the first Latina actress to play a live-action Disney princess, others balked at the fact that the performers didn’t look exactly like the characters they knew from the original animated films. Bailey and Zegler bonded over their casting controversies during their discussion for Variety‘s Actors on Actors series, with the latter revealing that she was “so inspired” by how Bailey proved “any naysayer out there” wrong: 

You, without the pun intended, blew everybody out of the water. It’s an amazing feat, and I’m so impressed. I truly think that any naysayer out there — because there are always people who have something to say …

Zegler also praised how Bailey navigated all of that negativity about her Ariel casting and how she didn’t let it publicly affect her during promotion for the film, saying:

You proved them wrong with grace. I was so inspired by the way you handled anybody who had anything bad to say about it. Did you ever let it affect you at all? You definitely didn’t publicly.

However, Halle Bailey admitted that reading about the backlash and boycotts online did anger her behind the scenes (“I’m an Aries!” she joked) and reminded people that though she’s a famous actress, she’s still a “real human being that has feelings and reacts to things.” As the Ariel actress put it:

That’s what people don’t realize: We’re granted amazing opportunities and able to be seen on massive screens, but there is a dissociation. People start taking you away from being a real human being that has feelings and reacts to things. That was definitely something that I had to navigate. But it turned out to be the most beautiful lesson — to block any naysayers or negativity out. Also, I’m an Aries, so I’m a fire sign. People are like, ‘Oh, she’s so sweet. She’s so nice.’ But a lot of times when I see stuff online, I get mad.

Despite her frustrations and how hard it is “being women under the spotlight,” Bailey chose not to respond to the online trolls, instead opting for a more “graceful” reaction:

I want to respond, but I’ll just be like, ‘No, it’s OK.’ The way you’re so graceful and respond, it’s just the most beautiful thing to see. Because it’s hard being women under the spotlight. People are so critical and say anything that they would never say to your face.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen the two actresses publicly support each other in the midst of controversy. Back in September 2022, Zegler responded on Twitter to a hate comment about Bailey, writing: “If you don’t support my girl halle, who is the perfect ariel, you don’t support any of us.” Similarly, in July of last year, Bailey hyped up her fellow Disney star on Twitter, commenting on Zegler’s post: “We love you so much, truly the perfect princess.” 

With The Littler Mermaid being one of the most high-profile titles on the 2023 movie schedule, you can currently see Halle Bailey as Ariel by streaming the movie with a Disney+ subscription. Rachel Zegler’s Snow White will hit theaters on March 21, 2025.





Rachel Zegler and Halle Bailey’s roads to Disney stardom have been less than a fairytale. The young actresses—who portray The Little Mermaid and Snow White in their respective titular live-action films (though the latter will not hit theaters until 2025)—made history when they were cast as two of the House of Mouse’s most iconic princesses,. However, their boundary-breaking castings have also sparked criticism and backlash among Disney die-hards. 

Though many Disney fans rejoiced at the racial diversity of a “Black Ariel” and Zegler’s casting as the first Latina actress to play a live-action Disney princess, others balked at the fact that the performers didn’t look exactly like the characters they knew from the original animated films. Bailey and Zegler bonded over their casting controversies during their discussion for Variety‘s Actors on Actors series, with the latter revealing that she was “so inspired” by how Bailey proved “any naysayer out there” wrong: 

You, without the pun intended, blew everybody out of the water. It’s an amazing feat, and I’m so impressed. I truly think that any naysayer out there — because there are always people who have something to say …

Zegler also praised how Bailey navigated all of that negativity about her Ariel casting and how she didn’t let it publicly affect her during promotion for the film, saying:

You proved them wrong with grace. I was so inspired by the way you handled anybody who had anything bad to say about it. Did you ever let it affect you at all? You definitely didn’t publicly.

However, Halle Bailey admitted that reading about the backlash and boycotts online did anger her behind the scenes (“I’m an Aries!” she joked) and reminded people that though she’s a famous actress, she’s still a “real human being that has feelings and reacts to things.” As the Ariel actress put it:

That’s what people don’t realize: We’re granted amazing opportunities and able to be seen on massive screens, but there is a dissociation. People start taking you away from being a real human being that has feelings and reacts to things. That was definitely something that I had to navigate. But it turned out to be the most beautiful lesson — to block any naysayers or negativity out. Also, I’m an Aries, so I’m a fire sign. People are like, ‘Oh, she’s so sweet. She’s so nice.’ But a lot of times when I see stuff online, I get mad.

Despite her frustrations and how hard it is “being women under the spotlight,” Bailey chose not to respond to the online trolls, instead opting for a more “graceful” reaction:

I want to respond, but I’ll just be like, ‘No, it’s OK.’ The way you’re so graceful and respond, it’s just the most beautiful thing to see. Because it’s hard being women under the spotlight. People are so critical and say anything that they would never say to your face.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen the two actresses publicly support each other in the midst of controversy. Back in September 2022, Zegler responded on Twitter to a hate comment about Bailey, writing: “If you don’t support my girl halle, who is the perfect ariel, you don’t support any of us.” Similarly, in July of last year, Bailey hyped up her fellow Disney star on Twitter, commenting on Zegler’s post: “We love you so much, truly the perfect princess.” 

With The Littler Mermaid being one of the most high-profile titles on the 2023 movie schedule, you can currently see Halle Bailey as Ariel by streaming the movie with a Disney+ subscription. Rachel Zegler’s Snow White will hit theaters on March 21, 2025.

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