Keke Palmer lashed out at white critics of Halle Bailey's unconventional casting in the upcoming live-action reboot of The Little Mermaid.
The 25-year-old actress and singer, who was the first Black actress to play Cinderella on Broadway, defended Halle's casting as Ariel during an appearance on Good Morning America's Strahan and Sara on Monday.
"What's up y'all, it's me, the black Cinderella," Keke addressed the critics. "And I know you're scared because Hollywood is making an effort to be more diverse in the people that they show on screen. But let me ask you this: why can't a mermaid be black? Why is that too unrealistic for you - because you do know she's friends with a talking crab, and I know you're not the sharpest people, but crabs can't talk. In fact, the entire thing is fiction! And, since the beginning of the entertainment industry, the most roles for black women were that of the maid. So it's about damn time we get to play the mermaid."
A mermaid is a fictional creature with a human head and upper torso and a fish-like tail instead of legs.
The hashtag #NotMyAriel began trending on Twitter.com hours after Disney announced the casting of Halle as Ariel in the reboot. Disney fans criticized the studio for ruining their childhood memories of Ariel as a mermaid with blue eyes and red hair.
In an editorial in The Washington Post, a writer blamed the backlash on "part of the wave of white nostalgia that Donald Trump used to win the presidency by appealing to white, working-class Americans who feel marginalized by the country’s growing diversity."
Halle is a Black R&B singer, who along with her sister Chloe, was signed to a record deal by semi-retired singer Beyonce Knowles-Carter who spotted them on YouTube.
Keke is the latest star to defend Halle's casting. Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in Disney's animated film The Little Mermaid, applauded Disney bosses for awarding the 19-year-old the role.
"I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters, she told fans at Florida Supercon over the weekend. "What you bring to the table in a character, as far as their heart and their spirit, is what really counts."
"We need to be storytellers. And no matter what we look like on the outside, no matter our race, our nation, the color of our skin, our dialect, whether I'm tall or thin, whether I’m overweight or underweight, or my hair is whatever color, we really need to tell the story."
As the backlash continued on social media, Reddit.com users decided to have a little fun with the controversy by reimagining Black historical figures and fictional characters as Caucasian.