Halle Bailey Is Making a Big Splash
Halle Bailey Is Making a Big Splash[photo1]
Photo: Welcome to our podcast, Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr. Think of it as your direct line to the designers, stylists, beauty experts, editors, and tastemakers who are shaping the fashion-and-beauty world. Subscribe to Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.If you love R&B, you probably know Halle Bailey from the Grammy-nominated duo Chloe x Halle. If you are a TV drama connoisseur, chances are you know her from her role on the hit Freeform series Grown-ish. And if all of that is lost on you, you surely know her name from her feature-film debut as Ariel in Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.But if that isn't enough to prove Bailey is one to watch, the rising star will follow up her splashy screen breakout playing Young Nettie in the Warner Bros adaptation of the Broadway version of The Color Purple this Christmas.We had a chance to meet with Bailey at this exciting moment in time. For Who What Wear's June cover story, we sat down with the multi-hyphenate to talk about working with Alan Menken on beloved iconic songs and new music for the soundtrack; meeting the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson; set secrets; and how hard it is to remake those iconic cartoon moments. Below, read some excerpts from the interview, and listen to the rest on the Who What Wear podcast. [photo2] Photo: First off, how are you? How are you feeling today?I am feeling pretty great right now. I've had quite a busy day running around with my cat all day. And now, I'm here getting to do this, which is so cool. So just happy.When this airs, this will be after everything has started, so I'm curious--what is your note to future Halle right now?That's a great question. I think my note to future Halle would be that everything is going to be okay. It's gonna be amazing. Be confident, be proud of yourself and the work that you put into this film, and just enjoy yourself, girl.Were you able to bring the same level of joy and calm to the audition process for this role? What was that like?Well, it was absolutely joy with receiving the request to audition for this film. Nerves and anxiety as well, though, on 100% because I have, like so many of us, loved this film. It means so much to me. And Ariel, honestly, is one of the main reasons why I even wanted to be able to swim as a little girl. I have vivid memories of my sisters and I being in the pool and playing mermaids. So the fact that I got to take on this new perspective and new vision of who she is and this live-action version, this reimagining of her world, is really just an honor. I'm just so excited about it. [photo3] Photo: Was there ever a moment where you thought, "I got it"? When was the moment in the process where you thought, "I think I might be the Little Mermaid"?I don't think I ever felt that way until he told me I was cast as Ariel because I think I just kept a very open mind. And I was so excited to even be going for the role that I was fine with that. ... I didn't know that I would be her until he told me. I'm really curious about whether Lily James and Naomi Scott gave you advice to be a princess. Did you pass that on to Rachel Zegler? Basically, is there a princess group chat that you guys are on?No, but we should make a group chat. Honestly. I love Lily James and Naomi and Rachel, who was just the best. I have connected with Rachel a few times in person. I met her, and I just love her so much as a person. For the Oscars, I got to meet Lily for the first time. I had met Naomi twice prior. She's literally an angel on Earth. They did give me a bit of advice when I was there with them at the Oscars. They were just like, "Listen, you're in it. You're strong, You're powerful. You can do this"--just basically words of affirmation because they know what it feels like to suddenly be taking on this role, this iconic story that everyone loves, and the pressures that come with that. There was absolutely just love sent my way, and I really appreciated that from them.What has it been like to meet your peers and older Black women who are probably having their own kind of inner child healed by seeing you in this role?Well, getting to meet peers and especially older women [coming] up to me and [telling] me how the trailers and stuff have impacted them, it's very surreal. It just makes me grateful and filled with so much joy and happiness and [pride] that I was chosen. It's very weird though too. ... You're saying all these nice things about me. That's so cool. I really appreciate it, but I just feel like a regular girl from Atlanta, Georgia. So when everyone's like, "You're breaking barriers, and this is history" ... I'm thankful, but it's almost this sense of you're looking at yourself from outside of a window or something. [photo4] Photo: Is that Parkwood education a little bit like that Motown education, where you're ready for the moment when it presents itself because everything else taught you the discipline to get there?I definitely think so. I think just having that example of the amazing Queen Bey. For everyone just looking at her, [she is] a pristine example of just a hard worker and pushing yourself and knowing that you can just inspire so many generations.When was that moment where it hit you, where you looked in the mirror and were like, "Oh, there's Ariel--I'm her"?When Colleen Atwood came to my house in Sherman Oaks. It was after the first two auditions that I had. Then all of a sudden, they were like, "Okay, they're gonna send Colleen Atwood to your house to get your measurements." I was like, "Huh, the Colleen Atwood, the Oscar-winning costume designer?" Then I thought to myself, "No, no, maybe they sent her to all the girls' houses." I tried to not psych myself up, and then she came to my house. She was so lovely, and I remember the second fitting that I had with her, seeing the beautiful mermaid dress. It was a dress that she made for me. When I stood up in heels, it came and looked like a tail. It was just for the screen test for the studio, but it was a full-blown beautiful mermaid gown. I was like, "Wow, this is so cool." I think that was the moment for me. [photo5] Photo: What did Ariel leave with you? What did you give Ariel?The pandemic helped me mirror the emotions Ariel was feeling in the film--where she felt trapped and isolated and ready to see a brand-new world like the world above where her heart belonged. I felt like there were parallels to both of our lives in the time that I was filming. I think I gave Ariel just my elements of who I am, whether it's just the way I say things or the songs. Reinventing how I sing them, that was fun to get to do--and, you know, being able to work with Alan Menken the legend. Also, Lin-Manuel, who's great, was so exciting. But Alan really let me just have the freedom to sing the songs. I wanted to sing it. He didn't want me to try to be exactly like the original. And Jodi Benson did so amazing. She's from Atlanta too. She was so sweet, and she just gave me such words of encouragement. I just love her to death. She's an angel. I feel like I gave Ariel my style of singing and my way of being as a person.This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
podcast sponsoredstory feature it girl expert advice entertainment interview just strong ariel photo think know moment really role film halle love little mermaid world meet gave bailey wear came first off how are you? how are you feeling today? when this airs this will be after everything has started so i'm curiousa??what is your note to future halle right now? were you able to bring the same level of joy and calm to the audition process for this role? what was that like? was there ever a moment where you thought "i got it"? when was the moment in the process where you thought "i think i might be the little mermaid"? i'm really curious about whether lily james and naomi scott gave you advice to be a princess. did you pass that on to rachel zegler? basically is there a princess group chat that you guys are on? what has it been like to meet your peers and older black women who are probably having their own kind of inner child healed by seeing