Fleur East says Little Mermaid performance for Strictly Movie Week will show power of ‘representation’

Fleur East has said that she wants her The Little Mermaid-themed performance on Strictly Come Dancing will show that “representation” matters.

During Saturday (8 October) night’s Movie Week special, the former X Factor contestant will dance the American Smooth to “Part of Your World” from the Disney classic.

Presenting her Hits Radio breakfast show on Wednesday (5 October), East said that she was “so excited” to portray Ariel on the show at a time when Halle Bailey is also taking on the role in Disney’s live action version of The Little Mermaid.

“At the start of my Strictly journey I gave a whole list of songs to the team and just slipped in this one and mentioned that The Little Mermaid was my favourite movie. I’m guessing they looked at that and here we are!” East said, revealing her personal connection to the show.

“This is genuinely my favourite Disney movie of all time and I know this song inside out and back to front. I’ve sung it since the age of seven word for word.”

East continued: “I’m going to be Ariel, Vito is Prince Eric and what makes it even more exciting is that in May next year the new remake of The Little Mermaid is coming out. The trailer for the film went viral recently because Ariel is played by Halle Bailey who is a Black girl, so for the first time Ariel is going to be played by a woman of colour.

“This representation is huge and you can see that from the video compilation that went viral of all these little girls watching the trailer and saying, ‘Mummy, Ariel looks like me.’ It just shows why this representation is so important and weirdly I’m going to play Ariel before Halle gets to play her.”

After the trailer for The Little Mermaid was released, clips went viral showing young children excited by the sight of a Black Disney princess.

You can read The Independent’s verdict on Strictly’s 10 greatest Movie Week dances of all time here.

Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday 8 October at 6.30pm on BBC One.