DISNEY has cast singer Halle Bailey in the starring role of Ariel in a live action remake of The Little Mermaid.
"Halle possesses a rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance, plus a glorious singing voice," director Rob Marshall said.
Halle, 19, half of R&B sister duo Chloe x Halle, "said it was a "dream come true".
The film, which will start shooting in 2020, will feature new songs written by Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda.
Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry was one of the first to tweet her support for the young star, saying "we can't wait to see what you do!"
British actress Naomi Scott - who starred in the recent Aladdin live action film, added: "Welcome baby gal."
While the majority of tweets were positive, Halle's casting proved controversial for some social media users, with one saying he "ain't racist for not wanting a black actress playing Ariel... Ariel is a redhead as was played in our childhood movie."
His and other comments have sparked a debate online about diversity in casting.
Recently, Disney cast Chinese actor Liu Yifei to play heroine Mulan in another upcoming live action film, following accusations against Hollywood of "whitewashing" other films.
The live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated movie will tell the tale of the famed Chinese heroine Hua Mulan.
While the rest of the cast for the forthcoming Little Mermaid film have still to be announced, comedian Melissa McCarthy is reported to be in talks to play the villain, Ursula the sea witch.
US singer Lizzo, who performed at the Glastonbury festival last weekend, has already made her bid for that role, recording a video of herself in character and singing one of Ursula's songs.
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