When you think of Ariel, you probably picture a red-headed white girl who rocks a clamshell bra and tail like no other. But really, does it say anywhere that The Little Mermaid lead has to be white?
But that hasn’t stopped people from talking smack about Diana Huey, the Asian American actress currently playing Ariel in the touring musical production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
She was chosen by casting directors for her acting and singing skills, but people can’t seem to overlook that she’s a different race that the princess was in the movie.
“It’s never easy being up on a stage in front of thousands of people everyday baring your soul, pushing through exhaustion and just hoping that they’ll like you,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday. “For me personally with this show, I’ve often also felt the added pressure of feeling like I have to work even harder to get the audience to like me or be with me because I’m not what they might have expected to see as an Asian American actor.”
The post came after Diana did an interview with The Buffalo News where she discussed finding criticism online.
“It’s hard not to take it personally,” she told the outlet.
The hatred turned even more intense as the tour made its way through the South. But there were a few bright lights on the journey, including meeting a young Asian girl in Nashville.
“The mom pulled me aside and said, ‘The second I saw that you were playing Ariel, I just burst into tears for the sake of my daughter being able to see that,’” Diana shared. “Seeing a little Asian girl in a place where there aren’t a lot of Asians, it reminds me how important it is to say diversity matters and being open-minded matters and equality matters. If I have to take the brunt of it every now and again, I will.”
She wrote on Facebook, “I want to believe in a world where racism and bigotry no longer exists. I want to believe that we can truly have equality in this world ― and the arts are a damn good place to start.”
You. Go. Girl.