When Bailey stepped into the function of Ariel, she entered the world of FODs (First, Solely, Totally different—a phrase coined by Shonda Rhimes). Bailey is fast to present flowers to the FODs who got here earlier than her, Brandy Norwood (who performed Cinderella within the 1997 Rodgers and Hammerstein TV adaptation) and Anika Noni Rose (the voice of Tiana, Disney’s first Black princess, in The Princess and the Frog).
For a lady who as soon as performed with mermaids together with her sister, touchdown the a part of Ariel is a dream come true for Bailey, and she or he hopes her casting is someday seen as commonplace and never extraordinary. “It’s loopy, as a result of we’re within the yr 2023. You’d suppose that these firsts usually are not firsts anymore,” she says with wistful optimism. “I simply hope that for the longer term it’s not such a shock anymore for a Black girl to be forged as Ariel and for that to only be a traditional factor.”
Whereas the character of Ariel means a lot to many, it’s stunning to listen to how a lot the character taught Bailey.
“I’ve been snug actually simply being with any individual on a regular basis. Any person has at all times held my hand. I’ve by no means needed to do something alone. So this was actually my first enterprise into solo maturity. I had moved to London, and I used to be in intense rehearsals and stunts and mermaid coaching, and unexpectedly, I’m going via this not solely bodily transformation however [also] psychological and religious transformation of me discovering who I’m by myself and constructing that confidence inside myself to have the ability to do this stuff,” she says. “So I actually really feel like Ariel taught me that I’m worthy, and I’m stronger than I assumed. We had been filming in the course of the pandemic and in London, and my household couldn’t come go to me. So I used to be very remoted. The whole lot was closed down. I’d actually go from work to dwelling, and I’d sleep on the weekends as a result of I’d be so drained, after which I’d go proper again to work. However wanting again, I’m blissful that it was that approach. [It] helped me mirror the feelings Ariel was feeling within the movie to the place she felt trapped and remoted and able to see a brand-new world the place her coronary heart belonged. I felt like there have been parallels to each of our lives within the time that I used to be filming, and I used to be grateful for that.”