For little girls of the 90s, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” was more than a box office sensation. It was an adventure into another world, an introduction to romance, and an important lesson on why as women we need our voices. Yeah, ICYMI: “The Little Mermaid” was hopped up on all types of feminism.
It was a huge deal. So much so that the studios launched a television series of the same name in 1993 that deep-dove even further into the adventures of Ariel’s life and lessons on girl power. Most importantly, the show introduced the production giant’s coolest representation of intersectional feminism of ALL time.
In the television series “The Little Mermaid,” Gabriella was Ariel’s deaf Latina mermaid friend, AKA: Disney’s great educator of diversity.
Ariel’s friend was introduced on the show as a character who loved to dance, did American Sign Language, and had a sweet octopus sidekick named Ollie who interpreted her every word for hearing viewers.
The character was a huge lesson in inclusivity for Disney’s young audience.
By it’s definition (equality for all) feminism works towards the rights of all people no matter what identity or trait causes them to become oppressed by society and made into a minority. Still, even today, the entertainment industry struggles to project this discipline onto it’s screens. Ethnic, racial, gender, and disability representation on children’s tv shows goes particularly underrepresented. So, for a show of the early 90s to include a Latina face on a cartoon show and one who had a disability was pretty big deal. It’s why I have zero understanding as to why the show and it’s powerful Latina character has been labeled as anything other than I C O N I C.
Gabriella’s character was based on an actual fan of “The Little Mermaid” who passed away from cancer.
Gabriella Angelina Bommino had been a 2-year-old cancer patient in 1992 when she became an avid fan of the 1989 animated movie. In a 1993 Los Angeles Times article, her parents described how their daughter watched “The Little Mermaid” upwards of four times a day throughout the course of her cancer treatments until she died in November of 1992. Ultimately, Bommino inspired the image of the show’s Latina character.
And Gabriella also taught viewers a thing or two about the underestimated abilities of people with disabilities.
In an episode where the Latina mermaid expresses her desire to be able to sing like Ariel, the two mermaids head over to the Magical Wishing Starfish for a bit of his magic. Together they request that he give Gabriella the ability to sing and for Ariel to obtain Gabriella’s dance skills. In the end, while the Magical Wishing Starfish is revealed to be a fraud magician, he does drop some pretty great knowledge: Gabriella can sing through Sign Language and she can also teach her friend Ariel to dance.
Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” has stirred up all kinds of excitement and inspiration since it was announced that Black actress Halle Bailey would take on the role of Ariel. Bailey’s casting has sparked all kinds of speculation over the rest of the cast announcements to come. After all, if Disney is willing to divert from expectations for the movie’s titular character by going with a Black actress for a role that originally depicted a white character, it seems like anything goes in this new remake.
And it seems as if our very own Christian Navarro has the same thing in mind.
Recently, the “13 Reasons Why” actor revealed that he has his sights set on high seas when it comes to the Disney remake. And it looks like he might just have the wind at his sails.
In early August after hearing that singer Harry Styles had passed on the role of Prince Eric, Navarro vocalized his desire to take on the role.
In a post to his Twitter page the actor wrote “So I heard Harry Styles passed on Prince Eric, well…I can sing. Black Ariel/Latino Prince…no ones called but Season 3 drops next week and I think it’s one hell of an audition.”
Of course, it didn’t take long for fans to jump on board with this campaign and this past Tuesday, Navarro updated fans that Disney had seen his tweet and gave him an opportunity to show off what he could do. “Tapes sent. Fingers crossed. Let’s make some history,” Navarro said in the tweet.
No news yet on how Navarro did but we have to say it’s pretty bold to put out your ambitions on the internet like that. Of course’ well be sitting tight on Navarro’s Twitter page to see how his tapes went, but for now, we’ll also be fantasizing.
Take a peek below!
1. Josh Segarra
Josh Segarra is a Puerto Rican-American singer and actor that has been the star of numerous Broadway musicals, including the Gloria Estefan-inspired Broadway show “On Your Feet”, in which he played Emilio Estefan. His singing and acting talents, as well as his chiseled features, would make him the perfect Prince Eric.
2. Bruno Mars
Who wouldn’t love to see Puerto Rican-Filipino Bruno Mars on the big screen, playing the Knight in Shining Armor who rescues Ariel from her doomed fate as one of Ursula’s Poor Unfortunate Souls? Although Prince Eric doesn’t have any musical numbers in the original movie, we’re sure that they’d add a song or two for Mr. Mars.
Women of all ages would flock to the movie theaters to see Colombian heartthrob Maluma play the dashing Prince Eric. Not only can he sing, but any woman in their right mind would understand why Ariel would give up her voice for a chance at winning this hottie’s heart.
4. Rome Flynn
Twitter is already abuzz with the idea of Afro-Cuban zaddy Rome Flynn playing Prince Eric opposite to Halle Bailey’s Ariel. Just look at that smolder. He could melt any girl’s heart.
5. Anthony Ramos
Sure, you saw him and loved him in supporting roles in fan-favorites like “Hamilton” and a “Star is Born”, but we think it’s time for Nuyorican actor Anthony Ramos to take his rightful place as a leading man now. Those freckles, that smile…sigh.
6. Michael Galante
We’ve seen up-and-coming Latino actor Michael Galante on guilty pleasure TV shows like “Jane the Virgin” and “The Good Fight”, but we think it’s time this talented guy takes a leap to the silver screen. We mean, just check out this sexy Instagram account.
Miguel is a talented singer of mixed Mexican and Black descent. He’s already shown us he can act in the neo-noir movie “Live By Night”, and we’re sure he could pull of the smiley, charismatic Prince Eric in this new movie.
8. Diego Boneta
We know, we know–you’re sick of seeing Diego Boneta on our dream cast lists, but there’s a reason he keeps popping up in our imagination! This Mexican actor is not only gorgeous, but he’s is musically talented as well. Boneta first showed off his singing skills in the telenovela, “Rebelde”, and then he went on to release a self-titled album in select Latin American countries. We honestly think he was made for the role of Prince Eric.
9. Prince Royce
Prince Royce is the Dominican Prince we’ve been waiting to see on the big screen. Can’t you just imagine him jumping into the ocean in a desperate attempt to save Halle Bailey from certain doom? We know we could.
10. Tyler Posey
Tyler Posey has the exact kind of face that would make any girl fall in love with him after seeing him on the deck of a boat for five minutes. Additionally, the actor of Mexican descent fronts his own band called “Lost in Kostko”.
11. Tristan Mack Wilds
Tristan Wilds has a resume that would put most young actors to shame. The Cuban-American actor has been in critically-acclaimed movies like “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Red Tails” and he’s also starred in hit TV shows like the “90210” reboot and “Shots Fired.” We’d love to see him put on an over-the-top costume for “The Little Mermaid” and show us his range.
12. Danilo Carrera
Danilo Carrera is a stunning Ecuadorian actor and model who bears an uncanny resemblance to Prince Eric. We would love to see him break into the US market with a meaty role in a big-budget film like “The Little Mermaid” remake.
13. Jencarlos Canela
Jencarlos Canela is a triple threat: actor, singer, Cubano. But, seriously, this talented guy definitely has what it takes to hold his own against Halle Bailey in this live-action remake. Just check out his incredible Insta account!
14. Ismael Cruz Cordova
Puerto Rican actor Ismael Cruz Cordova had an incredible year, starring in both “Mary Queen of Scots” with Saoirse Ronan and “Miss Bala” with Gina Rodriguez, so we know he could handle being on the set of a blockbuster movie like “The Little Mermaid”. And not only is Cordova incredibly talented, but he’s also incredibly hot.
15. Samuel Larsen
Samuel Larsen first hit the scene by entering the TV contest “The Glee Project” and winning a role on the hit TV series, “Glee”. Most recently, Larsen flexed his acting chops in the role of Zed in the sexy teen drama “After”.This brooding actor/singer of Mexican descent would be a really interesting choice to play the traditionally upbeat role of Prince Eric.
16. Diego Tinoco
You may know Diego Tinoco as the character Cesar Diaz on the Netflix show “On My Block”. Tinoco may seem young, but one look at his Instagram page, and you’d be well-assured that he’s old enough to play a leading man in a Disney movie. Cesar Diaz is all grown up!
17. Froy Gutierrez
You may know Mexican-American actor Froy Gutierrez from shows such as “Bella and the Bulldogs”, “One Day at a Time”, and “Teen Wolf”. It’s easy to imagine Gutierrez standing on a beach, looking out into the sea for his long-lost love, Ariel. We definitely stan this dream casting.
Dueling versions of The Little Mermaid? These ocean streets are getting spicy out here! After Disney announced Halle Bailey would portray Ariel in the live-action film, folks were excited by the new, multicultural version of the classic fairytale. Now ABC, which is also Disney property, will air a live musical version of the story. They’ve chosen to go the multicultural route again, which is always a great choice.
Not everyone can make it out to a theater and kids who are stuck at home deserve to see themselves too. The story is a completely fictional fantasy. It makes sense to cast based on talent and who can best encompass the energy of each role, anyway. Never forget the iconic ABC version of Cinderella starring Brandy as the title role and Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother.
Your fave is back!
Aulí’i Cravalho, star of Moana, will play Ariel. Cravalho is of Native Hawaiin, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish descent. No one plays an internally conflicted young woman about to make some questionable choices that piss off her father only to eventually redeem herself and flex on every hater quite like Cravalho. She’s got that youthful vibrant energy that I lost when I found out adobo was just four different spices mixed together with preservatives. Now I don’t believe in magic and am an internet ghoul. Protect Cravalho at all costs!
The black Ursula lives!
Fans who wanted a black woman to capture the wit and rambunctious persona of Ursula will not be disappointed this time around. While I think Melissa McCarthy will be a great comedic counterpart to Bailey, and after all the OG Disney Ursula is based on a white drag queen, I am excited to see Queen Latifah take on the role for this version.
“’Fortunately I know a little magic.’ Excited to be part of The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live!” The Queen tweeted.
After seeing her swagger as Matron “Mama” Morton in Chicago, there is no doubt in my mind the Queen will deliver.
Shaggy — and I can’t emphasize this enough — Shaggy!
Shaggy will play the crab, Sebastian. Shaggy. Yes, that Shaggy. This means the “It Wasn’t Me” dancehall singer will perform “Under the Sea” live in front of literal millions of human beings. By the glory of some unthinkable god, please tell me he has prosthetic crab legs. I can’t think of a more 2019 casting choice than this besides, like, the entire cast of the Cats movie.
While it may seem a little odd, I am glad we won’t have to hear someone doing a clumsy impersonation of a Caribbean accent. And although I have never seen the man act, I say put him in Big Little Lies season three because somehow I know Shaggy only improves screenplays.
We’re in unchartered territory.
This will be ABC’s first live musical. NBC paved the way for the contemporary format with 2013’s Sound of Music special. Fox hopped on the bandwagon with Grease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Now ABC wants in on the television musical big bucks. Let’s hope that ABC has watched the competition closely and tweaked their process accordingly. It is very difficult to translate stage musicals for the screen to no fault of the performers themselves. Seeing Ariel fake swim in a fake ocean, wearing a fake mermaid tail, on stage, on my television, there is not enough $3.00 wine on earth to make that appear seamless to anyone.
But what about the music?
Disney currently is home to both the broadway and animated versions of the story. The live musical will combine music from both mediums, which was largely composed by Alan Menken. This is a great idea. In the animated film, Ariel doesn’t get many numbers because she loses her voice so early on. This will hopefully ensure we get more bops from Ariel and don’t miss out on Cravalho’s voice. There’s still no word on who will be playing King Triton, Flounder, or Prince Eric.
The live musical will air on November 5 at 8 PM EST known officially as The Wonderful World of Disney presents The Little Mermaid Live! It just rolls right off the tongue.
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