'The Wiz' star Stephanie Mills opens up about her experience of racist backlash against 'The Little Mermaid' Halle Bailey

‘The Wiz’ star Stephanie Mills opens up about her experience of racist backlash against ‘The Little Mermaid’ Halle Bailey

Stephanie Mills, who originated the role of Dorothy on Broadway The magician nearly 50 years ago, says he can relate to Halle Bailey, star of Disney’s new live-action film The little Mermaid, and the racist backlash she’s been the target of since the casting was announced.

Mills wrote a letter to the “beautiful and talented” Bailey, who plays Ariel in the remake, and he shared it on Twitter.

In the letter, “I touch on the similarities I experienced as a young black girl who played Dorothy 50 years ago in #TheWiz on Broadway,” Mills added. “So happy for her. #BlackGirlMagic”

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Mills says she received the same backlash for playing the role of Dorothy in the reimagining of Frank L. Baum’s classic book made into a film The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 film adaptation starred Judy Garland as Dorothy. When she made her Broadway debut in 1974, Mills was 17 (for her part, Bailey isn’t much older than her, at 23).

“| know what she has been dealing with this baby #HalleBailey,” Mills wrote. “I have received so many hate mail that I have been told that Judy Garland ‘is turning in her grave.’ All because a little black girl was playing a (role) that was once played by a white girl. It’s sad to see the same thing happening to this beautiful, talented, smart, intelligent actress. Halle, God put you in this place and in this time… So let your light shine. Hold your head high, walk in your peace and celebrate the greatness that you are.

Mills went on to share more about the naysayers and doubters he faced in his early career.

“They told me I’d never make it on Broadway, they told me I couldn’t sing, they told me I was too dark, I’ve seen and heard ‘them’ try to tell you (Bailey) why you shouldn’t and couldn’t “, has continued. “Well, your movie comes out this weekend. I’m so proud of you and how you handled all the naysayers. We have never met, however I have been in your shoes. Baby girl, let him know this #Little Mermaid is made of teflon nanny. Let’s be sure to support The little Mermaid this weekend.”

She signed the letter, “Love auntie SM”.

The little Mermaid it did, in fact, open this weekend and is headed for an estimated $118 million four-day domestic debut, the fifth-largest Memorial Day holiday weekend opening all-time, according to studio projections.