“I want to believe that we can truly have equality in this world ― and the arts are a damn good place to start."

Diana Huey, the Asian American actress who is currently starring as Ariel in the touring musical production of The Little Mermaid has defended the decision to cast Ariel as Asian.

In a post on Facebook, Huey reacted to online critics who doubted her ability to play the Disney heroine because of her ethnicity.

“It’s never easy being up on a stage in front of thousands of people everyday baring your soul, pushing through exhaustion and just hoping that they’ll like you,” Huey wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“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.”

In an interview with The Buffalo News, Huey had discussed criticism from Disney fans who wanted to see a white actress cast as Ariel instead.

“It’s hard not to take it personally,” she told The Buffalo News.

As the tour headed towards the South, Huey said the criticism intensified. She cited a visit with a young Asian girl in Nashville who was with her adoptive mother.

“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 said.

“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. If I have to take the brunt of it every now and again, I will,” she added.

In her Facebook post on Saturday, Huey expanded on her frustrations with criticism towards her ethnicity.

“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. And as I go out on the road city to city 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,” she stated.

“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.”