Stephanie Mills is opening up about her experience playing Dorothy in the Broadway musical The Wiz and all the “hate mail” she received for playing a character that a white woman played before. Mills compares the negativity that Halle Bailey is now experiencing as the star of the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid.
“As a young Black girl playing the [role] as Dorothy in 7-time Tony Award-winning Broadway play The Wiz, I know what this baby #HalleBailey has been dealing with,” Mills expressed in a Facebook post. “I got so much hate mail, I was told Judy Garland ‘is turning over in her grave.’ All because a little Black girl was playing a [role], that was once played by a white girl.”
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The Wiz is an adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but influenced by contemporary African-American culture. Mills originated the role of Dorothy in the 1974 musical and seemingly received backlash for playing the role that was popularized by Judy Garland in the 1939 live-action film.
“It’s sad to see the same thing is happening to this beautiful, talented, smart and intelligent actress,” Mills added. “Halle, God put you in this place and time….So let your light shine. Hold your head up high, walk in your peace, and celebrate the greatness that you are.”
Mills continued, “They told me I would never make it on Broadway, they told me I couldn’t sing, they told me I was too dark, I have watched and listened to ‘they’ try to tell you why you shouldn’t and couldn’t. Well this weekend your movie comes out. I am so proud of you and how you handled all the naysayers.”
The star of The Wiz said that she hasn’t met Bailey yet but can relate to her as she has been in her shoes before. Mills also encouraged everyone to go watch The Little Mermaid in theaters to support Bailey.
Read Mills’ complete letter below.
A letter I wrote to the beautiful and talented @HalleBailey who is starring in the @Disney movie #THELITTLEMERMAID. I touch on the similarities I experienced as a young black girl playing Dorothy 50 years ago in #TheWiz on Broadway. So happy for her. #BlackGirlMagic👏🏾👏🏾💐💐 pic.twitter.com/NHWoraHK9l
— Stephanie Mills (@PrettyMill1) May 28, 2023
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