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Halle Bailey on Being Inspired by Her First ‘Deep, Deep, Real Love’ and Protecting Her Boundaries

After her feature film debut in The Little Mermaid earlier this summer, Halle Bailey is gearing up for two other huge releases: her first solo EP and another starring role in Blitz Bazawule’s highly anticipated reimagining of The Color Purple, which is scheduled to hit theaters on Christmas Day.

There’s a lot coming for the young star at once, but in a new interview for Cosmopolitan‘s STYLE issue, Bailey shares that she doesn’t worry about being boxed in or how the world perceives her because she remains consistent with one particular goal: staying true to herself. 

“There’s so much more to being a young woman than this fairy tale character. I think other people have a hard time separating who Halle is and who a princess is — and that’s natural when you’re a fan of an artist. But it’s a beautiful thing to be a layered individual and not fit into one certain image,” she tells the magazine. 

Bailey, who began her career alongside her sister, Chloë Bailey when they were younger, is currently performing the balancing act that is transitioning from teen stardom. Fans who witnessed Chloë x Halle‘s rise to fame are now watching as both sisters evolve with their music and style. 

“There will always be a conversation because I started so young. There’s a sort of protectiveness or ownership that people feel they have over your story because they’ve known you for so long,” Bailey notes. “Part of me thinks that’s a beautiful thing, to know that you have that support from people and they just want to see good things happen to you. But it’s also really easy for us to comment on what other people are doing… to say a lot of stuff. I think the transition will continue to happen naturally. It’s on people to figure it out, not necessarily on me.”

When it comes to Bailey’s personal growth, a lot of those comments revolve around her relationship with her boyfriend, Darryl Dwayne Granberry Jr., or DDG. The pair first sparked romance rumors in January 2022 and confirmed their relationship two months later. And while the couple has openly praised one another in interviews and shared affectionate videos on social media, they have also been the subject of rumors and breakup speculation.

Most recently, the rapper faced criticism after premiering his new song “Famous,” in which he raps about his own insecurities while in a relationship with a high-profile woman, appearing to shame Bailey over “kissing” and “holding hands” with a co-star while filming.

Bailey doesn’t directly address any of the criticism of her relationship, saying she doesn’t really “talk about my personal stuff,” but she does confess that this is more than just puppy love for her.

She shares: “All musical inspiration really just comes from life experiences. Love has been a really big one for me too, because that’s something I’m experiencing for the first time, and it’s, like, ‘whoa’ in your brain. It’s just fireworks, a spark for creativity. You know, you have puppy love experiences, you think that’s love. But this is my first deep, deep, real love.”

“I just live my life the way I want to live it and turn off my phone if I don’t like what people are saying online,” she adds. “But I also do think what I’m going through as a young woman right now, it’s really good fuel for me creatively. So I focus on putting whatever life experience I’m going through in the art that I’m creating.”

Lenne Chai for Cosmopolitan

As the year comes to an end, Bailey is preparing to deliver her long-awaited EP, which remains untitled at this point. The singer released her debut single, “Angel,” alongside its ethereal music video in August, marking her first non-theatrical release without her sister and her first release since the Chloë x Halle duo’s critically acclaimed album, Ungodly Hour, in 2020.

Performing under the mononym Halle, the GRAMMY-nominated singer soulfully croons lyrics that encourage listeners to soar despite the weight the world attempts to place on their wings, promising that “angels find a way somehow.”

For those who have been following Bailey’s journey since before her casting as the titular, headstrong princess in Disney’s latest live-action reimagining, “Angel” is understandably very personal for the singer. It’s a tribute to her journey navigating the pressure of the sudden worldwide attention and the racist conversations that began as soon as her casting was announced. 

“This song for me is so very special and near and dear to my heart. With everything I’ve gone through the past 3-4 years, suddenly finding myself in this bubble of all these eyes and new opinions, it was easy for me to feel doubt in myself and who I was,” Bailey said in a release at the time. “This song for me was my climb out of those feelings, a mantra and promise to myself that the work I’m doing here on earth matters and that I matter. I wanted to be able to embrace and be proud of myself and who I am naturally through and through.”

More than that, the singer shared her hope that others find motivation within the song for themselves. “I hope other brown and Black girls and everyone in general feel embraced, respected, and inspired hearing the words of this song,” she added.

Talking to Cosmopolitan, Bailey shares that her music is for “the young girl who doesn’t know herself completely yet, who’s growing every day and learning about who she is and about her power. It’s an emotional, vulnerable kind of music. It’s also a love letter to myself and my younger self and my future self.” 

“Angel” is definitely the right start with that goal in mind.

Halle has been candid about the struggles she faced while filming the Disney film, as well as her joy at seeing how her version of Ariel hit home in a big way for little Black girls who saw themselves portrayed as the beloved little mermaid for the first time onscreen.

The singer previously told ET that while it “feels absolutely amazing” to join the iconic ranks of the Disney Princesses, being one of the few Black Princesses is on a whole new level.

“I just am really grateful to be in this position,” Halle said, citing Brandy Norwood‘s Cinderella and Anika Noni Rose‘s Princess Tiana as her inspirations.

“I loved Brandy as Cinderella; she was so amazing, such a role model and inspiration and a really big kind of studying point for me as I was taking on Ariel,” she continued. “I just watched how amazing she was in that role and how comfortable she was in her skin and how impactful to audiences and little girls like me who watched it. And Anika Noni Rose, who’s just outstanding. I’ve had the chance to meet her and we got to sing [The Princess and the Frog‘s] song together, “Almost There” for [2022’s Disney Family Singalong] with my sister. She was always so kind! But there are these beautiful Black women pioneers who’ve done this before and been there for me to be able to say, ‘OK, I can do this.'”

Soon after the first trailer for the upcoming film was released, videos began circulating on social media that showed numerous Black girls “blind reacting” to the live-action trailer, which included a seconds-long glimpse at the new Ariel swimming under the sea and singing the song “Part of Your World.” 

“It’s been such a beautiful moment for me to be able to see the reactions of the babies — it makes me just emotionally overwhelmed honestly and I cry as soon as I watch them,” Halle admitted. “I think of the little girl that’s still in me, honestly, and it heals that girl inside of me to watch them feel like they have representation and someone to look to, to know that they deserve to be in those places, too. [It’s] so important. It just makes me cry anytime I see any of those videos.”


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