“Grown-ish” actress Halle Bailey has been cast as Ariel in Disney’s live-action, “The Little Mermaid.” But the picture Bailey used to announce the news on Twitter is what’s grabbing tons of attention.
In the picture, Ariel poses on a rock in the water in a mauve and green shell bikini, but the fictional character’s iconic red hair has been replaced with black and her skin is brown and not white.
“Dream come true…” Bailey, 19, wrote while tweeting the illustration, which according to People.com, is of an Indian American Ariel by artist Dylan Bonner. Bonner, the publication said, “created the image in 2015 after his friend Brian Flynn commissioned him to create a Disney princess series for his girlfriend at the time, Manini Gupta, for Valentine’s Day.”
In a blog post on Imgur that year, Flynn also shared artwork depicting him and Gupta as various Disney characters.
“My girlfriend Manini and I LOVE Disney movies,” Flynn wrote. “I want our relationship to be as epic and timeless as the animations we grew up on, so I decided to have us painted into some famous Disney scenes and surprise her for Valentine’s Day. I had my incredibly talented friend Dylan Bonner help me with the artwork.”
In the same post, Flynn explains how the Indian American mermaid was born.
“I contacted Dylan about this project three months ago. I sent him tons of photos of Manini and me and images of the Disney scenes I was hoping he could mimic. I’ve been bursting at the seams trying to keep this a secret!”
After posting a series of photos, he added: “Dylan created all of these images from scratch. The quickness and quality of his work really blew me away. He honestly made this all seem easy.”
Flynn also posted a bunch of the “real us” photos.
Along with “The Little Mermaid,” Bonner turned the two into characters from films like “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “Mulan.”
Gupta, an Indian American actress who has starred in shows like “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Blue Bloods,” wasted no time in reacting to Bailey’s post. She also took to Instagram to share her reaction.
“TFW @chloexhalle posts an illustrated pic of you while announcing her lead role as Ariel in The Little Mermaid YAS QUEEN LISTEN UP: growing up, I positively adored Ariel, the sea (got my scuba license), and always wanted to be a Disney princess; however, even then, I kept getting cues from adults and children, both obvious and subtle, that it wasn’t meant for me,” Gupta wrote. “As an adult, I occasionally still struggle with feelings of worthiness and truly believing that I am deserving of happiness, respect, and love. But my hope is some 8-year old girl growing up sees Halle in one of the most iconic—and my personal favorite—Disney films ever made and firmly feels her place in this world, knowing with certainty that she belongs. THIS MATTERS #dreamsdocometrue.”