Actor Halle Bailey is revealing how she responded to racist criticism after news broke that she’d star in the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” next year.
Bailey, known for her music with sister Chlöe, known as the R&B due Chloe x Halle, and for her role in ABC’s “Grown-ish,” reflected on the significance of her Ariel role in an interview published by Variety on Wednesday.
The actor, however, faced backlash, including social media hashtags, such as #NotMyAriel, which called into question the casting decision.
The backlash occurred despite a history of Black mermaids, such as the West African legend of Mami Wata, someone Bailey’s mentor Beyoncé paid tribute to during her 2017 Grammy performance, The Washington Post noted.
Bailey told Variety that she reflected on what her grandparents told her, given the discrimination they faced in their own lives.
“It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’” Bailey said.
— Variety (@Variety) August 7, 2019
Bailey’s sister Chlöe told the news site that the actor’s family rallied behind her despite the hate.
“It’s important to have a strong support system around you. It’s hard to carry the weight of the world on your own,” Chlöe said.
Bailey, who revealed she was obsessed with her family’s copy of the 1989 animated Disney classic, described how she felt about Ariel.
The actor said she’s since thought about what seeing a Black person play Ariel would have meant to her as a kid.
“What that would have done for me, how that would have changed my confidence, my belief in myself, everything,” Bailey said.
“Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.