Halle Bailey on the “Most Challenging” Aspect of Filming 'The Little Mermaid’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Elizabeth Randolph - Author
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May 26 2023, Published 4:35 p.m. ET

In 2019, Disney announced it had selected who would portray the role of Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. After countless auditions, the film’s director, Rob Marshall, chose singer and actor Halle Bailey to play the iconic princess on the big screen.

As many prepare to watch Halle do her thing in the theatres on May 26, 2023, some may wonder if the Grammy nominee is really the one singing in the feature film.

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In an exclusive interview with Distractify, Halle opened up about how the music in the live-action remake and how she used her musical talents to embrace the character of Ariel.

Halley Bailey holding a microphone at 'The Little Mermaid' U.K. premiere.
Source: Getty Images
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Does Halle Bailey sing in ‘The Little Mermaid’?

Yes, Halle definitely sings in The Little Mermaid. The Atlanta, Ga., native’s singing voice was one of the many reasons she was selected to play Ariel. As Rob told Entertainment Weekly, he was looking for someone who could be “incredibly strong, passionate, beautiful, smart, clever,” and have “a great deal of fire and joy” — and confirmed Halle checked all of his boxes.

Since Halle wowed the casting team at her audition, it was only fitting that the singer, who rose to fame alongside her sister Chloe Bailey, as the musical duo Chloe X Halle, also sang when the time came to start shooting the movie.

Months before The Little Mermaid premiered, fans received a teaser of Halle singing one of the film’s staple tunes, “Part of Your World.” The Disney favorite was popularized in 1989 when Jodi Benson sang it for Disney’s original Little Mermaid.

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While Halle knew she had some big shoes to fill, she delivered in both the movie’s clip and several live performances of the song on shows like American Idol. The musical pro told us that singing as Ariel was a breeze, but working on something without her biological BFF, Chloe, was the “most challenging” part of the journey for her.

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“I think the most challenging thing for me was definitely just coming into my own and realizing that this was a very big movie that I'm taking under my wings as an independent, individual, human being and artist,” Halle exclusively told Distractify. “Because I'm very used to working with my older sister [Chloe], my angel, who's been my rock my whole life.”

“She's always kind of been right next to me to hold my hand every step of the way,” she added. “And so this was the first thing I ever had to do alone. So it really taught me a lot about myself. And it allowed me to find myself and who I am independently.”

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(l-r): Halle and Chloe Bailey holding hands
Source: Getty Images

Halle said she’s “so so excited” for ‘The Little Mermaid’ fans to hear the movie’s new and classic songs.

In addition to “Part of Your World,” moviegoers will hear another song from Ariel that wasn’t in the original Disney cartoon. The song “For The First Time” was one of the three debut songs written by the film’s musical team — Alan Menken and Lin Manuel Miranda.

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Alan was the original composer for The Little Mermaid in 1989 with Howard Ashman, and the duo won two Oscars in 1990 for the classic “Under the Sea” before Howard died in 1991. For the 2023 version, Alan collaborated with Lin, who is best known for creating the Broadway sensation Hamilton and scoring several Disney films.

Lin and Alan created new songs and changed several of Howard’s lyrics to reflect the current times better. The composers changed the lyrics to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Kiss the Girl” to allow Ariel to be less thirsty for Eric’s (Jonah Hauer-King) kiss and allow them to fall in love naturally.

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While the songs may not sound the same as the ones many grew up with, Halle said she’s looking forward to fans seeing what changed from the film and what remained the same.

“It was cool collaborating with them when they worked on the new songs for the film,” Halle told us of working with her musical team. “And then, as you know, the original songs are still the same song we all know and love. So I'm so so excited for people to see our new version.”

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