Disney to turn updated ‘Little Mermaid’ into TV series

Disney on Tuesday announced a new animated children’s series inspired by its 1989 film “The Little Mermaid,” which like the live-action adaptation released last month will feature a black Ariel.

“Disney Junior’s Ariel”, a musical series for toddlers, is currently in production and is due for release next year.

It depicts the underwater adventures of Ariel, the eight-year-old mermaid princess, and her friends including Flounder in the fairytale Caribbean-inspired kingdom of Atlantica.

“I’m super excited about Ariel, I certainly didn’t think we would have an iconic character like Ariel in a pre-school play world,” said Ayo Davis, president of Disney Branded Television, a subsidiary dedicated to television content.

“I’m also very excited to have a character that my daughter can sort of identify and see herself in.”

The plan is not a minor consideration for Disney. It faced a racist backlash online after it awarded the role of Ariel to pop singer Halle Bailey for the recently released remake, as opposed to a white actress as in the original.

The house of mouse, which in recent years stepped up its diversity advocacy, is locked in a standoff with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is seen as a rival to Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

Disney’s first black princess appeared only in 2009 as Tiana in the animated feature “The Princess and the Frog.”