Halle Bailey in ‘The Little Mermaid’ and the Importance of Her Hair as Disney’s Latest Live-Action Princess

by Ashley Latcha

Disney’s highly-anticipated The Little Mermaid premiered last week, and Halle Bailey is ALL the news.

Alongside the most beautiful rendition of Part of Your World, the Grammy-nominated R&B singer managed to perfectly juggle regality as one of the princesses of the sea, as well as being a young girl just trying to find her place in the world.

One of the distinctions that made Bailey’s version of Ariel so unique is her hairーand the importance of keeping her identity through it.

Camille Friend, the head hairstylist of the movie who worked her magic behind the scenes, revealed that around six figures were spent on Bailey’s hair transformation.

“I’m not guesstimating, but we probably spent at least $150,000 because we had to redo it and take it out,” Friend told Variety last week. The hair guru also explained that for Bailey, keeping her natural hair was very important to her. Friend, who has been Oscar-nominated for her excellent styling choices in movies such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, explained that after meeting Bailey’s family, she saw her vision for Ariel.

“I went to meet with Halle’s family. Her mother is spiritual, and they’re a kind family. I started to understand who she was and why the natural hair element was important to keep.”

According to Friend, Ariel’s signature “candy apple red” color was never in the question since Bailey is not a cartoon. The stylist wanted to use a shade of red that complimented the young actress’ skin tone and eyes. Four different shades were wrapped around this princess’ natural locsーand it looked amazing.

When it came down to Ariel’s iconic hair flip, the budding actress admitted that it took an entire day to perfect it. In a promotional trailer released about two months ago, she revealed the act almost “broke her neck.”

“That scene was so fun to do. It was definitely hard, though, because my hair was really, really heavy. I have my locs, which are my favorite thing. I’ve had my locs since I was 5. It feels like wool when it’s wet. So it gets heavier. It kind of almost doubles the weight when they’re heavy,” she explained in an interview.

And after watching the magical moment reveal itself on the big screen, it’s safe to say her hard work paid off.

As the first Black princess in a Disney live-action, Bailey also talked about how this has been a life-changing role for her.

“It just makes me cry,” she shared with E! News. “The fact that all these little Black and Brown babies are going to be able to feel like they’re being represented is really special to me. I know that if I had that when I was younger, it would have changed a whole lot for me and my perspective on who I am as an individual.”

Friend’s vision of trading in a wig for Bailey’s long locs marked a significant moment for the representation of Black heritage and solidified the importance of the younger generation being able to see themselves and their own features on-screen early on. The film not only lets children but also adults who were robbed of that experience witness the most beloved mermaid fairytale in a fresh, innovative way.

Top photo by The Little Mermaid on Youtube

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