Disney has given the green light to a new animated series, “Disney Junior’s Ariel.” The show for preschoolers is based on “The Little Mermaid” and features a Black, animated Ariel. It will be set in the Caribbean and the shows creators have tapped Black consultants to help stay true to the culture.
The president of Disney Branded Television, Ayo Davis, announced the upcoming series.
“For more than 30 years, the story of ‘The Little Mermaid’ has been beloved by audiences all over the world. It brings me so much joy to be able to introduce our new Disney Junior version of Ariel to preschoolers everywhere,” said Davis.
‘Disney Junior’s Ariel’ Highlights Caribbean Culture
According to Billboard, “Disney Junior’s Ariel” highlights the multicultural diversity of Caribbean culture. Disney hired Dr. Patrice Saunders to act as cultural consultant. Saunders is a professor of English and hemispheric Caribbean studies at the University of Miami. The Chair of Berklee College of Music’s ensemble department, Sean Skeete, will serve as the series Caribbean music consultant.
The Caribbean-inspired underwater series follows eight-year-old Young Ariel. The character is inspired by the latest version of “The Little Mermaid.” The animated mermaid will have flowing, red locs and brown skin. Viewers will witness her mermaid tail change color depending on her emotions.
Halle Bailey’s Legacy
The new animated series will carry on the legacy of Halle Bailey’s live-action performance. Fans worldwide came out to support Bailey in the iconic role. “The Little Mermaid” garnered more than $417 million at the box office worldwide, and its accompanying soundtrack climbed to No. 1 on Billboard’s Soundtracks chart. The album also came in at No. 21 on the Billboard 200, surpassing the original soundtrack on both charts.
When it was first announced that Bailey would be Disney’s newest princess, the network and Bailey caught a lot of backlash. Many people weren’t ready to see a Black woman play such an iconic role, regardless of whether she was a mermaid. In an exclusive with Edition Magazine, Bailey talked about the backlash and how she’s handled it.
“Seeing the world’s reaction to it was definitely a shock,” Bailey said. “But seeing all the babies’ reactions, all the brown and Black young girls, really tore me up emotionally. It’s honestly been such a crazy ride, and I genuinely feel shocked and honored and grateful to be in this position. A lot of times, I have to pinch myself and be like, is this real life?”