This 'Little Mermaid' is Asian American. Deal with it, haters.

Diana Huey defies expectations in the touring stage production of 'The Little Mermaid.'

For Diana Huey, starring as Ariel touring stage production of The Little Mermaid was a chance to share her talent and passion to audiences around the country. But some people -- too many -- apparently have a problem with the fact that the musical's title role is being played by an Asian American actress.

In a recent interview with The Buffalo News, Huey says she's been dealing with negative social media comments about her casting since the tour began in Seattle in November. Outraged Disney fans say the production, a stage adaptation of the 1989 animated Disney movie, should have cast a white woman as Ariel.

First of all: never read the comments. But may I remind everyone that Ariel is a friggin' animated mermaid.

While she's brushed off most of the criticism, Huey admits it was hard not to take it personally. And the tone and frequency of the comments only intensified when the tour made its way to the South.

"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 Memphis, Huey says she drew on her love for composer Alan Menken's music and her belief in the power of story to inspire young viewers. And a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in helped her put her own struggle into perspective. And then there was the encounter a young Asian fan and her mother in Nashville.

"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 recalled to The Buffalo News. "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."

Huey says that when she auditioned for the role, she was just excited to sing Ariel's theme, "Part of Your World," with a live accompaniment. She didn't think she had a real chance in booking it because she's Asian. She now realizes she was placing limits on herself -- the same limits that her detractors are placing on her. But now she's playing a part that inspires Asian Americans to see themselves in Ariel or any other role.

"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," Huey writes on Facebook. "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."

By the way, if you're in the Buffalo area, you can see Diana Huey in The Little Mermaid, August 15-20 at Shea's Performing Arts Center. Get your tickets here.

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