Stephanie Mills has taken to her Instagram to send an empowering message to Halle Bailey as she celebrates her new film “The Little Mermaid.”

Bailey has received a great deal of love for her portrayal of Ariel in the beloved Disney film. Despite the mostly positive energy surrounding the highly anticipated film, Bailey has also faced some negativity since her casting in the film was first revealed. Many of the critiques were related to Bailey being a Black woman playing the role of Ariel. The character is white in the original 1989 animated movie. 

History Repeated

In her Instagram message to Bailey, Mills revealed that she faced similar limiting commentary after she stepped into the role of Dorothy in the 1974 Broadway musical “The Wiz.” The musical was adapted from the L. Frank Baum book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” It found a teenage Mills playing a role first made famous by Judy Garland in the 1939 “The Wizard of Oz” film.

“I got so much hate mail, I was told Judy Garland ‘is turning over in her grave.’ All because a little black girl was playing a role, that was once played by a white girl,” Mills wrote in her Instagram post.

Words of Encouragement

Mills added that when it comes to “The Little Mermaid” critiques Bailey is facing, it is “sad to see the same thing is happening to this beautiful, talented, smart and intelligent actress.”

“Halle, God put you in this place and time….So let your light shine. Hold your head up high, walk in your peace, and celebrate the greatness that you are,” she continued.

Mills then went on to tell Bailey how proud she is of how she’s “handled all the naysayers.” She also encouraged everyone to support the film.

“The Wiz” musical eventually won seven Tony Awards and kicked off Mills now legendary entertainment career.

Bailey is also rising above the negativity with “The Little Mermaid’s” early success over Memorial Day weekend. The movie earned $117.5 million over the four-day holiday, making it the fifth largest Memorial Day debut ever.