In July 2019, it was announced that Halle Bailey would star as Ariel in The Little Mermaid’s live-action remake. Sadly, the singer received racist backlash online, which she is now responding to.

In an interview with Variety, the 22-year-old said her grandparents helped her get through the hateful comments.

“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.

She also reflected on the impact it would have made upon her as a young girl to see a Black Ariel, “What that would have done for me, how that would have changed my confidence, my belief in myself, everything. Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us.”

The Rob Marshall-directed movie wrapped filming in July 2021 and also stars Jonah Hauer-King, who will play Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, and Daveed Diggs as Sebastian. The live-action remake of The Little Mermaid will incorporate original songs from the 1989 animated film as well as new music from original composers Alan Menken and Miranda.

The film marks Halle Bailey’s acting debut.

The Little Mermaid arrives in theaters in May 2023.