The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
So many of us have been patiently waiting for the arrival of the live action remake of Disney’s Little Mermaid. The 1989 classic has finally sailed back to the big screen but this time reimagined with a new leading lady, a Black Ariel, brought to life by Halle Bailey. To celebrate the release of the film, we partnered with Valencia Seuell, the founder of Elite 23 International, a non-profit Chicago-based organization dedicated to empowering and uplifting women and young girls around the world to send a group of young lades to see the film on opening weekend. Four of them then joined me on the podcast to share about their experiences watching the film and what the film taught them about life. Today on the podcast I’m joined by Caleigh, Sa’Mya, Ameri, and Kennedee.
This episode does contain spoilers so if you haven’t had the opportunity to see the film yet, put this episode on pause and come back to it later.
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Producers: Fredia Lucas, Ellice Ellis & Cindy Okereke
BONUS: Black Girls React to The Little Mermaid
Dr. Joy: Hey y'all. Thanks so much for joining me for a special bonus episode of The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast. We'll get right into our conversation after a word from our sponsors.
Dr. Joy: So many of us have been patiently waiting for the arrival of the live action remake of Disney's Little Mermaid. The 1989 Classic has finally sailed back to the big screen, but this time reimagined with a new leading lady, a black Ariel brought to life by Halle Bailey. In anticipation for the release of the film, our team here at Therapy for Black Girls wanted to sponsor a group of young black women to go see the film in theaters on the opening box office weekend. We partnered with Valencia Seuell, the founder of Elite 23 International, a nonprofit Chicago-based organization dedicated to empowering and uplifting women and young girls around the world.
Founded on the principles of academic excellence, community involvement, and higher-level thinking, Elite makes it a priority to ignite passion and leave a lifelong positive impact on the lives of many. We invited four young women from Elite to join us on the podcast to share their experience watching the film and what the film taught them about life. Today I'm joined by Caleigh, Sa’Mya, Ameri, and Kennedee. This episode does contain spoilers, so if you haven't had the opportunity to see the film yet, put this episode on pause and come back to it later. All right, y'all, thank you so much for joining me today. I'd love to start our conversation and hear, who did you go to the movies with to see The Little Mermaid?
Young Girl: I went with my cousin and I went with her Elite group and it was very cool when I watched the movie.
Young Girl: I went with my dad. I think it was very good. I think it was very good.
Young Girl: I went with my family and obviously Elite group and this one and I was just singing my little heart away. I was just serenading all through.
Young Girl: I went with my mom, my sister, and my cousin, and obviously the Elite family. It was a good experience. That was my sister's first time seeing Ariel, and so I was happy she saw the black Ariel and not the white Ariel.
Dr. Joy: Okay. So next question. What was your favorite part about the movie?
Young Girl: My favorite part was when Ariel stood up to her dad and showed that she was being mature enough to make her own decisions.
Young Girl: My favorite part was the hair flip. It’s because the sunset and the hair is gorgeous and it's the hair flip for me. It was gorgeous.
Young Girl: I think my favorite part, it has to be either the Scuttlebutt or Part of Your World because like I really just liked that. And the Scuttlebutt was really a *[inaudible 0:03:56]
Young Girl: My favorite part was probably, I would say when she finally got to be with Eric. It was just like a beautiful scene and like all the mermaids were there to watch her and send her off and her dad was like, he was there for her.
Dr. Joy: All such good answers. I can tell you all were really paying attention to this movie. So that makes me curious. Were there any lessons you learned while watching The Little Mermaid?
Young Girl: I really think there's a lesson of about how mermaids and humans could really be one.
Young Girl: A lesson I learned is that no matter how hard your parents try to turn you down, talk about them, about like what you truly wanna do instead of going behind their back… In every situation like in music and in real life.
Young Girl: The lesson I took from it was, if you want something, you have to try really hard to get it because obviously nobody else knows what you want as bad as you do. So you have to fight really hard for what you want, no matter how hard it is or what the consequences might be afterwards, as long as you get what you want.
Dr. Joy: You all are so wise and I'm learning so much just listening to you talk about the movie. So would you recommend this movie to other families and to your friends?
Young Girl: Yes, I would recommend it because I really think it's a feel-good movie and it makes you kind of scared and it's romance.
Young Girl: Yeah, I would recommend this movie because like it's all about what mermaids do and stuff. It's really a good movie. We got to watch it and I love it so much. It's about a black girl that's like stood up for herself.
Young Girl: I definitely would recommend the movie. Like every day I go around to my friends telling them that they should go see this movie, and if they haven't seen it already, they should take me with them. It's definitely full of a bunch of great songs, original and new.
Young Girl: Yes. I would honestly say to go watch this movie because it's Halle. Like it's a black female playing Ariel. And there's not a lot of black females and black artists in general taking the role of a white movie. And it’s Ariel, who wouldn’t want to watch Ariel?
Dr. Joy: I just love how y'all clap and applaud each other's answers. This is such a great example of sisterhood and loving your friends. We definitely are big fans of the Black Ariel. I feel you on that one, Ameri. Okay, so my next question, what would you ask Ariel if you could actually speak to her?
What questions do we have for Ariel?
Young Girl: I would ask her, where did you guys go? At the end, when she went on the boat, where did she go? Because I felt like she was just walking. I'm like, where you going?
Young Girl: I think they said they were going to like something ocean.
Young Girl: If you had to go back and change one decision you made, what would that decision be?
Young Girl: Ooh, that was actually nice.
Young Girl: Honestly, what was she thinking when Ursula asked her, did she wanna become human and have two legs? Because she was zoned out and so I'm like, what was she really thinking? Because yes wasn't her first answer. It was like, ah, I don't know. And then she was like, yeah, and then Ursula put a curse on her.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, that curse was no joke. Speaking of the curse and Ursula and all of that, all of that happened because Ariel was sneaking behind her father's back. What do you all think about Ariel hiding things from her father and sneaking around to do what she wanted to do?
Young Girl: I don't really think that's a good idea because she wasn't supposed to go up to the top. But if she didn't go up to the top, she would have never met Eric.
Young Girl: I think it was a bad idea because like, why would you follow Ursula where she went and she was gonna take her voice and then turn her to get two legs, and then she was gonna sell her voice for her to not talk to Eric.
Young Girl: It was a bad decision because you really… Even though he's so persistent, you really need to show him how bad that you wanted to be above the surface. And it comes with a lot of the responsibilities and the decisions that you have to think about as you get older.
Young Girl: Honestly, parents are always right. No matter if we think they're wrong, they're always right. I felt like, like she said, she could have been persistent with, I wanna go out, I wanna go up to the sea… and you know, the surface. And yeah, because at the end, she got legs without having to sell her voice or without all the bad things having to happen to her. So maybe if she just would've stayed underwater a little longer, she would've got her legs eventually without going through all of the stuff. Cuz now she got trouble.
Dr. Joy: Mm-hmm. Parents are always right. I wonder how many families and kids listening feel the same way about that. So Ursula was definitely the bad girl in this movie. How do you all decide when someone can be trusted? How do you know when someone is trustworthy and when someone is actually dangerous?
Young Girl: When somebody is dangerous, I would not trust them.
Young Girl: How do you know if they're dangerous?
Young Girl: I would have to learn their personality and how they act around people and how kind they are and how respectful they are of my boundaries.
Young Girl: I don't trust dangerous people because like I need to know them more if they're like dangerous or not. Like I need to know what they do or what they don't do, or something like. Like I need to know their personality and stuff. I need to know them.
Young Girl: Well, trust for me comes from how you act around me, and you can keep a secret. But like I feel like her trust came out of really feeling the need to do anything to get what she wants or like eventually… after she said no, the peer pressure that she felt because that might have been her one and only chance to actually get legs.
Young Girl: I don’t wanna say she didn’t really had trust in Ursula. She just really wanted to have her legs to get to Eric. So it was more of a “I do this and you do this for me.” So it wasn't really about trust because she just wanted legs.
Dr. Joy: Y’all are such a gift. I'm so glad you were able to see this movie and I wanna thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. I'm having such a great time with you, but we've got to wrap this up. I'm sure you've got homework to be doing. Before we say our goodbyes, I'd love for you all to share your name and one thing that you believe makes you unique.
Caleigh: My name is Caleigh and one way I'm unique is because not a lot of people go to tournaments, and I go to tournaments a lot.
Young Girl: What kind of tournaments?
Caleigh: Karate, gymnastics, dance. I'm very busy.
Sa’Mya: My name is Sa’Mya and what makes me unique is like my style and stuff. And like I love everything about my styles and stuff, everything I wear.
Kennedee: My name is Kennedee and one way that I'm unique is with the spelling of my name. Like it's not spelled with a Y or I. It’s with two Es at the end because that's the same that my mother and my aunt's name is spelled.
Ameri: My name's Ameri. One way that I am unique is by my name Ameri. Because not everybody spells their name like me and there's only one me and I would think *[inaudible 0:13:13] so I am very special.
Dr. Joy: I wanna thank Valencia, Caleigh, Sa’Mya, Ameri, and Kennedee for joining me for this episode. To learn more about the work Elite 23 is doing, be sure to visit the show notes at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/LittleMermaid. And be sure to text two of your girls to tell them to check out this episode as well. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/directory.
And if you wanna continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. This episode was produced by Fredia Lucas and Ellice Ellis, and editing was done by Dennison Bradford. We'll be back on Wednesday with our full episode, but until then, continue to take good care of yourself.