Disney's Freeform defends Halle Bailey's 'Little Mermaid' casting in open letter to critics

Disney's Freeform, the company’s channel aimed at teens and young adults, released a statement on Saturday pushing back against the criticism Halle Bailey has received since fans learned that she got the lead in the upcoming Little Mermaid adaptation.

"Yes. The original author of The Little Mermaid was Danish. Ariel...is a mermaid. She lives in an underwater kingdom in international waters and can legit swim wherever she wants (even though that often upsets King Triton, absolute zaddy)," the post states. "But for the sake of argument, let's say that Ariel, too, is Danish. Danish mermaids can be black because Danish *people* can be black. Ariel can sneak up to the surface at any time with her pals Scuttle and the *ahem* Jamaican crab Sebastian (sorry, Flounder!) and keep that bronze base tight. Black Danish people, and this mer-folk, can also *genetically* (!!!) have red hair."

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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Halle Bailey of Chloe X Halle attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Chloe Bailey (L) and Halle Bailey of Chloe X Halle backstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Halle Bailey, left, and Chloe Bailey, of Chloe X Halle, arrive at the season three premiere of "Stranger Things" at Santa Monica High School on Friday, June 28, 2019, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Halle Bailey, left, and Chloe Bailey of Chloe X Halle attend the Walt Disney Television 2019 upfront at Tavern on The Green on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Chloe Bailey, left, and Halle Bailey attend the 12th Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Halle Bailey, foreground, and Chloe Bailey, of Chloe x Halle, perform "Where Is The Love" at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 30: (L-R) Chloe Bailey and Halle Bailey of Chloe x Halle attend the 50th NAACP Image Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 30, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for NAACP)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 14: Halle Bailey attends the MCM Rodeo Drive Store Grand Opening Event at MCM Rodeo Drive on March 14, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for MCM)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 24: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Chloe X Halle attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre /VF19/WireImage)
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"But spoiler alert - bring it back to the top - the character of Ariel is a work of fiction," the post adds. "So after all this is said and done, and you still cannot get past the idea that choosing the incredible, sensational, highly-talented, gorgeous Halle Bailey is anything other than the INSPIRED casting that it is because she 'doesn't look like the cartoon one,' oh boy, do I have some news for you...about you."

Bailey, who is half of the R&B group Chloe x Halle, is a series regular on Freeform’s original show, Grown-ish.

While some haters have pointed to the 19-year-old actress’ race as the reason she shouldn't be the next Ariel, she’s also received a wave of support from her peers.

"Yeeeeessss!!" Zendaya, 22, raved on Twitter. "Here for thiiiissss!! @chloexhalle." Chloe x Halle’s account wrote back: "I LOVE YOU! Thank you," prompting another response from the Spider-Man: Far From Home star: "Love you more!!! So freakin excited for you."

Halle Berry, who was briefly trending when fans thought she got the gig, also chimed in, writing, “In case you needed a reminder... Halles get it DONE. Congratulations @chloexhalle on this amazing opportunity, we can’t wait to see what you do! #TheLittleMermaid #HalleBailey.”

Once again, the Chloe x Halle account wrote back: “this means the world. happy to share names with you love you lots.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mariah Carey, Janelle Monae and more have since chimed in to offer Bailey their support and congratulations.

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