Halle Bailey did the whole mermaid thing and reached a new level of stardom while she was at it. But the really exciting stuff starts now—and she’s ready to talk about it. On the cover of Cosmopolitan’s September/October issue—the Style Issue—Halle opens up to journalist Sylvia Obell in her cover interview about her style evolution, making music, her upcoming role in musical adaptation of The Color Purple, and more. Plus, get know and love Halle even more as she spills on her career in an episode of Cosmopolitan’s video series, The Breakdown. The gorgeous singer and actor tells Cosmo all about her journey, from her singing covers at only 11 years old (that led to getting discovered) to her acting in TV (Grown-ish) and film (The Little Mermaid).
On not feeling boxed into a Disney Princess image: “My main goal has always been to stay true to myself. 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.”
On the all-star cast of The Color Purple: “It was beautifully Blackity Black. Set was like going to a cookout—it felt like a family reunion, honestly, like you’re surrounded by your aunties and cousins. I was just excited to be there as a fan of everyone. The movie is a labor of love. I mean, we all care so much about the original story and really wanted to do a good job with this reimagining. People are going to lose their minds over Fantasia’s and Taraji’s performances. I get chills just thinking about it.”
On what she hopes audiences take from The Color Purple: “The reason I wanted to do it—and the reason I felt connected to it—is that it’s about the beautiful bond of sisterhood. What it means when you’re away from each other and how heartbreaking that is but also how special the moments you have together are. I could pull from my own experience with my sister, who’s my angel and my best friend. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if we were separated in the way Nettie and Celie were.”
On being in love for the first time and how it’s been an inspiration for her music: “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.”
On how it feels to transition from teen star to more mature content: “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. 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.”
On her style evolution: “I look back at some of my pictures on the red carpet and laugh. But as I’m getting older and my body is changing, I’m learning who I am. I want to be sexy. I want to feel good. I want to wear clothes that embrace where I am in life. My confidence has gotten deeper and bigger with the help of my sister. She’s always been an extroverted, sexy, demanding kind of presence. As I’ve watched her, I’m like, That’s so cool. I hope one day I can do that. She’s helping my find my footing in this whole adult-woman world.”
On rigorous physical training for The Little Mermaid: “Filming The Little Mermaid was definitely very, very, physical for me. I mean, I did three months of stunt training, and rehearsals and the harness, and also in water with synchronized swimmers. Just to get the beautiful, graceful swim that Ariel has. So, it was definitely a lot of intensity on my body, but it was so cool because I was really strong back then, and that was three years ago.”
On how she feels seeing young Black girls react to a Black Ariel in The Little Mermaid: “Every time I see these videos, they make me cry. I mean, I love seeing the beautiful families come together and react that way. It makes me feel so happy, and so embraced, and so proud. And I’m just so grateful that they get to see themselves.
On her upcoming film, The Color Purple: “With The Color Purple, I was more than excited to join, especially hearing that it would be a beautiful musical adaptation where I get to incorporate my love of music. I actually got to write an original song for the film as well, so I just can’t wait. It’s just a combination of all the things that I love and the stories that matter so much to us.”
On her Grownish character, Sky: “Grownish is so funny. We had a blast when we did Grownish. I feel like Sky is very close to who Halle is as a human being. I felt like I could just be myself.
[Photo Credit: Lenne Chai for Cosmopolitan Magazine]
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