In the lead up to the release of Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid” on May 25th, 2023 in Latin America, and a day later in Spain and the United States, controversy arose when it was announced that African-American actress, Halle Bailey, would be playing the lead role of Ariel. Despite backlash over the casting decision, the production moved forward with Bailey in the role. As part of the film’s promotion, Bailey visited Mexico, where an interview with Argentine presenter, Patricio Borghetti, on TV Azteca, resulted in a racist comment, causing a stir.
Whilst everything seemed to be going smoothly in the conversation, Borghetti decided to offer what he thought was praise for Bailey’s work. Unfortunately, his words caused more harm than good. “None of us who were in that room yesterday were seeing the color of your skin,” he told her. This comment sparked outrage on social media, with many condemning Borghetti’s racist undertones. Despite the outcry on social media, the driver defended himself. However, this did not stop Bailey from feeling uncomfortable about the situation.
Following the interview with TV Azteca, Bailey was reportedly unhappy and had complained to Disney executives about the interviews conducted in Mexico, specifically because of what Borghetti had said. Bailey questioned being taken to Mexico to endure comments like this and asked that she not be exposed to such situations again in front of journalists who were not sufficiently prepared. Unsurprisingly, this generated all manner of reactions from the representatives of Disney in Mexico.
Despite the controversy, Bailey remains excited to take on the role of Ariel in Disney’s latest adaptation, and fans around the world are eagerly anticipating the film’s release. At the same time, the situation serves as a stark reminder to the entertainment industry that it still has a long way to go in terms of embracing diversity and inclusion. It’s clear that incidents like this illustrate the importance of educating individuals in the media about representation and discrimination before they’re given a platform.