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Halle Bailey Makes a Splash in ‘The Little Mermaid’

She was born into a musical family. OutKast, Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild rang throughout their Atlanta home, and she gravitated to jazz artists like Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Halle and Chloe Bailey, now 24, performed around the city for anyone who would listen. They were persistent —“Can we sing for you?” she remembered asking the So So Def record executive Jermaine Dupri — and soon local producers knew their names. Online, they posted their covers of classic R&B titles, and when their take on Beyoncé’s “Best Thing I Never Had” went viral, it led to their discovery by the star herself, who subsequently signed them to her label, Parkwood Entertainment.

As prodigies under Beyoncé’s wing, the sisters released their own albums, amassing five Grammy nominations each. They opened for the singer during her Formation World Tour in Europe in 2016 and performed during her On the Run II Tour two years later. From international concerts in their teens to starring in the “black-ish” spinoff “grown-ish” together, they were rarely apart. It wasn’t until filming “The Little Mermaid” in 2020 that Halle found herself separated from her sister. Despite this, Chloe’s support overflowed.

“She has been really encouraging in more ways than one, where she’s been trying to say, ‘You have these beautiful wings and here, go fly,’” Halle said. “So, it’s really nice to have my best friend tell me those things.”

Although they have their own apartments, they live in the same complex. When Halle got the call with the news that she’d landed the starring role, Chloe was by her sister’s side and they both burst into tears.

Director Rob Marshall and another “Little Mermaid” producer, John DeLuca, had been eyeing Bailey for the role from the moment they watched Chloe x Halle pay tribute to Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack with “Where Is the Love” at the 2019 Grammys.

“I saw this beautiful, otherworldly young girl who had this angelic voice, and I just thought, wow, who is this?” Marshall told me in a video call.

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