Halle Bailey's turn as Ariel in the upcoming Disney live-action film "The Little Mermaid" is a departure from the original Disney character's fair skin and bright red hair -- something social media users have been more than happy to remind her of, and not always in friendly terms.
However, speaking to British Vogue in an interview published Monday, Bailey revealed she isn't bothered by the criticism, knowing the obstacles her grandparents had to overcome.
"I grew up in Georgia. I'm from the Deep South. Being a Black woman, in general, you just know the way things are and how people sometimes are just blatantly racist," the publication's May 2023 digital cover star said.
"My nana is 85. My grandpa's a little bit older," Bailey continued. "I've talked to them about their life experiences. My nana would see her family picking cotton and she experienced being restricted to only drinking from a certain water fountain, and the paper bag test ... When I hear my grandparents' stories, I feel like I'm the luckiest girl in the world. All of that hate I got is nothing compared to what my ancestors lived in their lifetime."
Bailey first came to fame as half of the musical duo Chloe x Halle, which also features her older sister Chlöe. She and her sister, who signed with Beyoncé's management company Parkwood Entertainment in 2015, subsequently earned main roles in the ABC series "Grown-ish," opened for Beyoncé on the European leg of her Formation Tour, and simultaneously garnered several musical accolades, including a set of Grammy nominations in 2019, and a coveted spot in the 2018 Coachella lineup.
When Bailey was cast in the role of Ariel in 2019, she said she had to move to London and discover life on her own terms.
"Chlöe is like my mom. Venturing out on my own was scary, but because of the movie I had to be in London and Chlöe had to be home, working," she said of her alone time, noting she had to learn how to speak up for herself as well.
"On set, I had to walk into the room every day, by myself, alone, where everybody's grown," she added. "Everybody's older than me but they're looking to me for answers."
She's since formed a newfound independence that is reflected in her forthcoming solo album, which she described to British Vogue as a "sonic mash-up of her jazz and grunge influences." Still, she said she consults Chlöe for her opinion, just as she does with Beyoncé, a mentor she does "not take for granted."
"I just played [Beyoncé] a lot of my songs and she was really overjoyed for me," Bailey said. "It's really cool to have somebody as established and talented as she is give you confirmation that the art you're creating matters."