In November, Asian-American actress Diana Huey joined the cast of the live-action "The Little Mermaid" as Ariel — and racists lost their minds.
There's no rule that Ariel must be white, so when Huey proved that she was the best mer-woman for the part, the lead role rightfully went to her.
However, racist trolls were quick to criticize the casting choice. They blasted the touring production for choosing an Asian woman over a white woman — even though Ariel is a FICTIONAL, MYTHICAL character.
Huey stood up to their intolerance with the utmost class and poise.
She fired back with a lengthy Facebook post.
“It’s never easy being up on a stage in front of thousands of people every day baring your soul, pushing through exhaustion and just hoping that they’ll like you,” Huey wrote. “For me personally, with this show, I’ve often also felt the added pressure of feeling like I have to work even harder to get the audience to like me or be with me because I’m not what they might have expected to see as an Asian-American actor.”
Huey revealed that she initially didn't think she'd book the part because of her race.
"When I auditioned for Mermaid, I was just excited to get to sing 'Part Of Your World' with a live accompanist — I didn't think I had a real chance in booking it because I'm Asian," the actress admitted.
But she quickly realized her ethnicity had nothing to do with her talent.
"Looking back at that now, that thought makes me so sad," she continued. "No one should feel like they aren't enough because of the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes or any factor outside of WHO THEY ARE."
Now, Huey refuses to let racist trolls stand in the way of her success.
"As an Asian-American playing Ariel, I hope that it will inspire the next person who is out there auditioning for something to believe that THEY can be cast in a role based on their work and their talents," Huey concluded. "I want to believe in a world where racism and bigotry no longer exists. I want to believe that we can truly have equality in this world — and the arts are a damn good place to start."
In a recent interview, Huey stressed the importance of representation.
She told The Buffalo News about the career-changing moment when an adoptive mother of a young Asian girl pulled her aside and told her what it meant to her to see an Asian actress on stage as the lead.
“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,’” Huey 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."
Racist trolls can try to bring her down, but Huey will never give into their ignorance.
"If I have to take the brunt of it every now and again, I will," she added.