Who didn’t love Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” growing up? The animated musical showcased a red-haired 16-year-old mermaid who longed to experience life on dry land. Ever since the film's release, countless plays and productions have been created in the films honor, only causing people to fall more in love with the under the sea fantasy.
However, a recent development in the play’s tour has caused many people to get extremely upset. Last year, a Japanese-born actress named Diana Huey was cast as the lead role. While she’s been a smash hit playing the part of Ariel, the stunning actress has also encountered her fair share of racist remarks during her tour.
For months, Diana has toured with the cast as Ariel, a character people typically associate with pale skin and bright red hair. While mermaids are a mythical creature and thus don’t have a race, people from across the country are upset but the fact that Diana is Asian.
"It's hard not to take it personally," Diana said in an interview, regarding her performance in Memphis, Tennessee. "I had kind of a funky first part of the show and I was like, how do I get out of this? I can't let that affect me."
Before stepping on stage in Memphis, Diana scrolled through a barrage of hurtful remarks from people saying she shouldn’t have been cast in the role because of race. While she admitted that the performance was rather tough, she chose to pay a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and it helped it her get back on track.
While she was there, Diana met a young girl and her adoptive mother who helped her realize why her part in the production was more important than the negativity.
"The mom pulled me aside and said, 'The second I saw that you were playing Ariel, I just burst into tears for the sake of my daughter being able to see that,'" Diana recalled. "Seeing a little Asian girl in a place where there aren't a lot of Asians, it reminds me how important it is to say diversity matters and being open-minded matters and equality matters. If I have to take the brunt of it every now and again, I will."
Since then, Diana has been able to let the racist remarks roll off her back, and she’s instead focused on the outpouring of support she’s received, and all of the little girls she inspiring.
While Diana’s passion is the theater, she now has another focus in life: spreading awareness and promoting diversity.
"I am so grateful that in the dust of something so ugly, can rise such beauty, heart, compassion and love. I am overwhelmed by the support that I have received in the last couple of days. It's beyond anything I could have ever imagined and has quickly become larger than I could have ever expected." she wrote on her Instagram page. "I wish I had the time to thank each and every single one of you for your posts, messages and comments. Please know that I am seeing them and feeling your love and support and am endlessly lifted up by you. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART. Let's keep fighting for equality and a more loving world for us to share!"
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