Disney fans got some exciting news last week when it was announced that 19-year-old actor-singer Halle Bailey has been cast as Ariel in a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.
Naturally, most fans are very happy about this news. But unfortunately, there's also been a racist backlash.
Some social media users have started using the hashtag #NotMyAriel, complaining that Disney cast a black performer in the role.
And some have said that because The Little Mermaid is a Danish fairy tale, Ariel should be white.
Anyway! Jodi Benson, the woman who voiced Ariel in Disney's animated film, just made an appearance at Florida Supercon. And when she was asked about the controversy, here's what she said.
“I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters," she replied. "What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart, and their spirit, is what really counts."
Benson talked about how channeling Ariel's inner spirit is how she herself has been able to step into the role over the years, despite getting older:
And the outside package — cause let’s face it, I’m really, really old — and so when I’m singing "Part of Your World," if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song. But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel.