Disney has revealed their upcoming Disney Junior’s Ariel will feature race swaps of both King Triton and the fan-favorite villainess Ursula.
This change, as ostensibly inspired by the company’s similar diversifying of Ariel in their recent live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, was first revealed by Disney during their August 18th Disney Junior & Friends Playdate event.
Unveiling the first official members of the series’ cast, President of Disney Branded Television Ayo Davis announced that Ariel will be voiced by Mixed-ish star Mykal-Michelle Harris, King Triton will be voiced by Murder in the First star Taye Diggs, and Ursula by Glee star Amber Riley.
Alongside these casting details, Ayo also released new concept art for both Diggs and Riley’s respective characters.
And while it was previously known that Ariel herself would be race-swapped for this new animated series, these pieces of concept art provided confirmation that both her father and her archenemy would be following suit.
As shared by the @DisneyBrandTVPR account, after being race-swapped from white to Hispanic with Javier Bardem’s casting in the House of Mouse’s 2023 The Little Mermaid remake, King Triton will once again undergo such a change and be portrayed as the Black king of the series’ Caribbean-inspired Atlantica.
Notably, unlike his predecessor, Diggs’ version of the aquatic ruler will wear a shorter beard and haircut than any of his predecessors.
Likewise, where the purple-skinned Ursula – as iconically portrayed by the late actress Pat Carroll – one carried herself with an aura of calculating, manipulative arrogance, Riley will voice a version of the villain who is prettier, slimmier, and friendlier than ever before.
Sporting a violet dress-esque body, gold accessories, and elegantly stylized hair, this latest iteration of Ursula looks more like a church-going, middle-aged version of Riley than the iconic Sea Witch.
When the series was announced, Disney emphasized that “throughout the series, the multicultural diversity of the Caribbean is highlighted through music, food, festivals, fashion, language and folklore.”
“Dr. Patricia Saunders, professor of English and hemispheric Caribbean studies and director of graduate studies at the University of Miami and author of two books, serves as cultural consultant on the series,” the company detailed. “Sean Skeete, chair of Berklee College of Music’s ensemble department, is the Caribbean music consultant.”
Despite less than sea worthy race-swapped live action remake barely survived the global box office, Disney is continuing to dive deeper into milking their latest cash grab.
According to box office tracking outlet The-Numbers, The Little Mermaid live action remake the film made a total of $561,945,014 worldwide. While this take seems impressive on its face, the film has a reported budget of approximately $250 million.
Giving consideration to the generally accepted rule of thumb that a film’s true budget, marketing included, can be roughly estimated by doubling its production budget, The Little Mermaid‘s actual costs come out to $500 million – meaning the live-action remake is roughly breaking even.