Activist helping girls see ‘The Little Mermaid’

Activist helping girls see "The Little Mremaid"
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 1:44 PM EDT|Updated: May. 26, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Little Mermaid Challenge has gone viral thanks to Spelman activist Taylor Richarson also known on social media as AstronautStarBright.

She has been crowdsourcing to send one thousand black girls to see the live-action Disney film “The Little Mermaid”, starring Halle Bailey in films on May 26.

“When I initially saw the teaser of the film of course I saw a candid shot of Halle and her being in the water and seeing her beautiful hair and her angelic voice, and also just recognizing a black girl has taken on such an iconic role in such an empowering and uplifting way, and I knew immediately that I not only wanted to support this film,” Richardson said.

Richardson started a Gofundme with a goal of $25,000 and has exceeded her goal and made $45,000. She received a $6,000 donation from Melissa McCarthy who is playing Ursula and Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Foundation who also made a large donation, that’s just a few of the many people who have donated.

“I do have a stem background. So, I think the technology aspect grabbed me as well. I’m really excited to see how they incorporated CGI (Computer-generated imagery) to create this diverse cast of sea creatures. But also, just recognizing the importance of the film and the potential impact it could have in crafting such a compelling and positive narrative for girls and boys, especially those from black and brown communities,” Richardson said.

On Saturday, 300 girls will the film at the AMC North DeKalb 16. On Sunday, 200 will watch at the AMC Parkway Pointe, and 500 will see the flick next weekend (the first weekend in June).

Richardson’s mom told Atlanta News First the screenings are sponsored by Cactus Jack Foundation. She also said this is a private event, and the attendees must have Eventbrite to attend. The ticketed events are sold out and already accounted for.

Richardson is no stranger to crowdsourcing and setting up these kinds of challenges that have empowered thousands of Black girls and provided the opportunity to see Black women and girls represented in STEM on screen. She also set up a challenge for the movie “A Wrinkle in Time”, raised $150,000, and also meet Oprah Winfrey.

“I believe I raised about $150,000 for those campaigns and had the opportunity to send thousands of kids both internationally and nationally to see those films,” she said.

Richardson is big on representation and is honored she can give Black girls the chance to see who they can be. It makes her feel empowered to know there are movies representing Black girls, so they know that they are beautiful and compatible.

“I think if I were to describe it, it would be empowered honestly, empowering since we’re experiencing it right now,” Richardson said. “Seeing Halle Bailey play Ariel, and Yara Shahidi plays Tinker Bell or Zendaya-- is really inspiring,” Richardson said.

She hopes young girls of color will see they can break barriers too.

“I think we’re on a new wave of diversity in media and film, and I definitely think that this movie is an example of that,” Richardson said. “I feel like seeing Halle Bailey on the screen gives young black girls an opportunity to know that they’re not only beautiful and capable but powerful of making their dreams a reality,” she added.