Halle Bailey - American singer-songwriter and actress

Halle Bailey - American singer-songwriter and actress

Halle Bailey is an American singer-songwriter and actress. She became known for the musical duo, formed with her older sister, Chloe x Halle, which has two albums and no less than five Grammy Award nominations.

As an actress, Bailey notably played a secondary role in the TV sitcom "Grown-ish" (2018-2022). But it is in 2023 that she became known worldwide thanks to the role of Ariel in the Disney musical live-action "The Little Mermaid."


From an early age, Halle and her sister Chloë write their own songs, helped by their father and co-manager Doug Bailey, and learn to play an instrument by watching tutorials on the internet. On the side, acting since the age of 3, Halle performs a few minor roles in films such as "Joyful Noise" (2012) and "Let It Shine" (2012).


At the ages of 13 and 11, the two sisters launch a YouTube channel. First produced under the name Chloe x Halle, they perform covers of pop songs, starting with Beyoncé's "Best Thing I Never Had". They then cover "Pretty Hurts", another track by the artist, which quickly goes viral.

Riding on this success, the duo made their stage debut on the talk show "The Ellen Show" in April 2012. The following year, the Bailey sisters won season 5 of Radio Disney's "The Next Big Thing" and made an appearance on the Disney series "Austin & Ally", with a performance of the song "Unstoppable."

In May 2015, the two sisters, still minors at the time, were in talks to sign with Parkwood Entertainment, an American entertainment and management company founded by Beyoncé. They were finally signed in 2016 to a five-year contract, becoming "Beyoncé's first true musical successors" (NPR), and were then considered the artist's "prodigies."


Chloe x Halle made their professional debut with the EP "Sugar Symphony", released under the Parkwood label in April 2016. In the summer of the same year, the duo also performed as the opening act for Beyoncé's Formation World Tour in Europe. Nearly a year later, the sisters released their mixtape "The Two of Us" on Youtube. Critically acclaimed, it made Rolling Stone magazine's list of the best R&B albums of 2017. On December 29, 2017, the duo released the title track for the TV series "Grown-ish", titled "Grown".

Alongside this, Halle plays the recurring role of Skylar Forster in the first season, before being promoted to a regular role from the second one. She left the show at the end of the fourth season, when her character graduated from college.


Chloe x Halle released her first ever studio album "The Kids Are Alright", which includes the song "Grown", in March 2018. It receives critical acclaim, and their single "Warrior" appears on the soundtrack of the movie "A Wrinkle in Time" (2018).

In 2019, they perform "America the Beautiful" at Super Bowl LIII, a performance that will be repeatedly praised by their mentor, Beyoncé.

The following year, the duo released their highly anticipated second album, "Ungodly Hour", also acclaimed by critics. The album debuted at #16 on the Billboard 200 with 24,000 units sold. Their single "Do It" also became their first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 for June 2020, debuting at #83.

That same year, the two sisters sing the U.S. national anthem at the 2020 NFL season kickoff, and host the Glamour Women of the Year Awards.


Acclaimed by both critics and audiences, and driven by the encouragement and guidance of an accomplished artist such as Beyoncé, the two sisters racked up nominations. Their duo was notably nominated for the 2018 Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Urban Contemporary Album, as well as the 2021 Grammy Awards for Best Progressive R&B Album, Best R&B Song and Best Traditional R&B Performance. The duo also received nominations for Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Video of the Year, Best Dance Performance and the Ashford And Simpson Songwriter Award at the 2020 Soul Train Music Awards.

At the Billboard Women in Music 2020 ceremony, Beyoncé presented them with the Rising Star Award along with these words: "I am so, so proud of you. You’ve done this with authenticity, with grace, with raw talent, and you manage to shine in every room you enter, and I’ll always love you."


During their speech, the two sisters thanked their family, their mentor, but also all the artists who preceded them, and reminded women that everything is possible. "We don’t do this alone. None of this happens without family — they are our foundation. Our family has made major sacrifices just to help us live out our dreams and because of this, we want to give the biggest thank you to our beautiful family for loving us through it all. We can never repay you. We love you all forever. [...] [Beyoncé] saw something in us both, two young Black girls with short little locs passionately singing their hearts out at home for the world to see. So we just want to say thank you, Beyoncé, for being you, and believing in the power of lifting up the young. We love you! [...] “Just when we think we have reached our capacity to overcome these burdens, we’re reminded by the women who came before us, the women who have been honored by Billboard in this way, that the capacity to do more is inexhaustible. So we follow their footsteps and will continue to work hard to blaze a trail for the women who will come behind us, all while holding a hand out to help pull our sisters forward too." – Halle, billboard.com, December 10, 2020.


In July 2019, Disney announced it had cast Bailey as Princess Ariel in the upcoming live-action "The Little Mermaid", directed by Rob Marshall. In addition to playing the role, she also records and performs the film's soundtrack.

In a press release, Marshall says that after "an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance – plus a glorious singing voice – all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role".


This casting caused a great deal of controversy, with some claiming that casting an African-American woman as Ariel was unfaithful to the original character. Disney responded to the public with an open letter defending its choice, and Jodi Benson, the actress who lent her voice to the character of Ariel in the 1989 animated film, also defended Halle, stating that "the most important thing is to tell the story" and that "the spirit of a character is what really matters".


Despite this controversy, mainly motivated by racist remarks, the actress has received many messages of support, and feels proud to be part of the Disney princesses. In an interview for The Guardian, published on May 20, 2023, Halle speaks out about her Disney adventure and the controversy her casting has caused, with the widespread racially charged hashtag #NotMyAriel, and the importance of diversity on screen. "We’re all human beings, so if we see anything negative about ourselves, of course it’s going to hurt or sting a little bit, especially remarks like those. I expected it, honestly. [...] The world we live in today, just being a black woman, you have a certain awareness that comes with life, in general. So I wasn’t very surprised or shocked. I think it’s just the way that you respond and move, and know that inside you’re worthy, and you’re here for a reason."

Following the first teaser of the film, in 2022, social networks were filled with parents filming the reactions of their young black children, astonished and overjoyed: this new Ariel, this princess, looks like them. For Halle, that's what mattered, "because I feel like, if I would have had a black mermaid, that would have been insane, that would have changed my whole perspective, my whole life, my confidence, my self-worth. You’re able to see a person who looks like you, when you’re young? Some people are just like, oh, it’s whatever, because they’ve had it their whole life. It’s nothing to them. But it’s so important."


She also confides to Reuters (May 9, 2023), her pride in being in this position to be able to participate in the representation of the black community and, as a Disney princess, to be able to bring a piece of hope to children who look like her. "My hopes for this film are just for people to take away such love and joy and happiness when they leave and especially for all of the Black and brown little boys and girls to be able to see themselves being represented on such a big scale. I'm just honored to be in this position."


Article par Julie Henry Poutrel pour Adama Toulon.