If you’re exhausted with all the unnecessary outrage over Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid, then prepare yourself, because there’s probably even more coming in the next few months.
According to Variety, David Alan Grier has joined the cast of ABC’s Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration. The Tony-winner will play Cogsworth in the network’s musical tribute to the animated classic.
As previously reported by The Root, Oscar-winner H.E.R. will play Belle, the princess who is just trying to mind her business and read her books. Per a press release provided to The Root, she will be joined by Grammy-nominee Josh Groban as the Beast, Broadway star Joshua Henry as Gaston and award-winning legend Rita Moreno as the narrator.
“I can’t believe I get to be a part of the Beauty and the Beast legacy. The world will see a Black and Filipino Belle!” H.E.R. said in a statement. “I have always wanted to be a Disney princess.”
You can feel the joy in her words. This is a big deal for the Grammy-winning artist. She’s just beginning her acting career and she gets to start out as a Disney princess. That same joy can be found in all the little girls marveling at the idea that Ariel looks just like them. While it’s crucial to call out the nonsensical, hateful arguments of racist trolls, it’s more important to focus on the pure happiness this brings to the Black community.
The first time I saw Halle Bailey as Ariel, I got emotional thinking about how special it’s going to be for my niece to see this movie. When I explained that H.E.R. would be playing Belle, the little girl’s response was, “Oh wow, that’s really cool.” In her young life, she’s already had more princesses who look like her than I’ve had in my entire adult existence.
To me, the happiness and joy of kids like her speak much louder than any racist tirade. The hard truth is there’s a certain segment of white people who will always have something to say about Black representation in mainstream entertainment. They can’t possibly imagine a world where a clock with human qualities is voiced by a Black actor. So from now on, let’s just all agree to not care. It does not matter what these people say. We can defend our princesses and heroes without being hyper-focused on their opinions or feelings.
Just because my family and I get to enjoy and H.E.R. as Disney princesses doesn’t mean the original films are erased forever. They’re both still available on Disney+, ready to watch whenever anyone wants. Besides, there’s no need for all this ugliness. We’re talking about movies for children. Your kids will still sing all the songs non-stop, even when they’re being sung by Black people.
Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration airs Thursday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. on ABC, then becomes available on Disney+ the next day.