Original Voice of Ariel Sides With Disney Over Halle Bailey Casting in 'The Little Mermaid'

During an appearance at Florida Supercon, Jodi Benson reminds fans that what really matters is the heart and the spirit the actress will bring to the table for a character.

AceShowbiz - The voice artist who played Ariel in Disney's animated "The Little Mermaid (1989)", has applauded the casting of Halle Bailey in the new live-action version, insisting the Disney star has the right spirit.

Fans of the original are split over African-American Bailey, with some suggesting film bosses should have chosen a white actress to play Ariel and resemble the mermaid in the 1989 hit - but Jodi Benson, who voiced the heroine in the first film, insists the role doesn't require a colour or skin type.

"I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters," she told fans at Florida Supercon over the weekend (July 06-07).

"What you bring to the table in a character, as far as their heart and their spirit, is what really counts..."

"We need to be storytellers. And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the colour of our skin, our dialect, whether I'm tall or thin, whether I'm overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever colour, we really need to tell the story."

Bosses at Freeform, the Disney channel behind the new film, have issued a statement defending the decision to cast Halle as Ariel.

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