Disney has found their Ariel for live-action 'The Little Mermaid' but the casting has people divided

Disney has announced that they have found their mermaid princess for the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

It was revealed today that 19-year-old singer and actress Halle Bailey is set to take on the iconic role of Ariel.

Director Rob Marshall – known for his work on Mary Poppins Returns – said of Halle's casting: "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."

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly last year about the role of Ariel, Rob added, "It’s about a woman finding her voice — a girl finding her voice, actually — and that immediately just felt like an interesting, timely piece that resonated with us."

Halle’s acting credits include Last Holiday, Let It Shine and most recently the TV series Grown-ish. She is also known as one half of R&B duo Chloe x Halle – who went viral for their cover of Beyonce’s song Pretty Hurts in 2013.

However, the casting choice has left some Disney fans divided.

While many expressed their love for Disney's casting of a person of colour in the leading role, others were concerned that it wouldn't be the same as the red-headed Ariel from the original 1989 animated movie.

"Ariel is iconic because of her red hair," one disgruntled fan wrote on Instagram. "Why cast someone who clearly looks nothing like the original?"

"I’m all for inclusion, but come on. I was hoping for Madelaine Petsch or something," another commenter added, suggesting the redheaded Riverdale star should have been considered.

However, another Instagram user poked fun at those hating on the casting choice, writing sarcastically: "Wait you’re telling me they didn't cast a real mermaid? All these mermaid roles going to human actors, like she doesn’t even have scales."

"Why does her skin colour matter?!" A Halle fan added. "She got the part because she was the best one and had the best damn voice. End of story."

Earlier this week, it was revealed that comedian Melissa McCarthy was up for the role of The Little Mermaid's villain, Ursala the sea witch.

The Little Mermaid news comes after the success of Disney's recent release of their live-action Aladdin and the upcoming The Lion King movie, which will hit cinemas July 17.