Business owners Whitney Owens and Tiffany O’Guin are covering expenses for about 150 children and their families to come see ‘The Little Mermaid’ on Friday night.

Little Rock, Ark. – The opening day of the highly anticipated live-action film ‘The Little Mermaid’ is finally here!

On Friday, May 26, children and their families will fill theaters across the country to catch a glimpse of Halle Bailey playing Disney’s second black princess, Ariel.

To add to the excitement of the film’s release, two Arkansas business owners decided to host a special free screening for the community.

Whitney Owens-State Farm’s Whitney Owens and Tiffany M. O’Gunn, Managing Partner for Mays, Byrd & O’Gunn (MBO) on Friday paid for about 150 children and their families to see ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Will complete. at the Little Rock Cinemark Movie Theater.

While it’s an exciting moment for her to be given the opportunity, one young woman who will be present at the event said it feels incredible.

Rylee Grant, 13, is a student at Westwind School for the Performing Arts. Grant studied acting and singing and has already fallen in love with being in the spotlight.

“I’ve always had a passion for being on stage and smiling and being someone I’m not and just betraying the character,” Grant said.

She will now have the chance to see for herself how far her desires can take her when she sees the new live-action film.

“Knowing that I can see a black woman being a character, being a princess in the water. It’s great,” Grant described.

Owens and O’Gunn have joined a national initiative called #WinWithBlackWomen to offer free screenings to children and their families.

“We chose organizations that we think are in the arts because it’s a movie. A lot of kids might want to go to Broadway, they might want to get to know you in the movie realm,” O’Guinn said. said

#WinWithBlackWomen presents a challenge that the couple has embraced that aims to give young girls an opportunity to experience the portrayal of Black women and girls in film.

“Just to have the opportunity to bless any young lady. It doesn’t matter what color she is, it doesn’t matter what shade of color she comes in, it doesn’t matter. In the neighborhood she grew up in, it’s an opportunity for all of us to come together and say, ‘Let’s see this movie,'” added O’Guinn.

It’s an opportunity that lead actress, Hayley Bailey, didn’t take lightly either, especially after she faced racial backlash after her historic casting announcement.

“I just focus on the positivity and the beautiful response of these kids and the greater meaning and purpose of it all is for them to see themselves and know that they are capable,” Bailey said.

Owens founded the Centers for DansArts Inc. under C. Michael Tidwell. recalled her time as a dancer under and seeing the Alvin Ailey show with Blake Ballerina looking like her for the first time and how special the moment was.

“The first of many things that we can do is to take steps to be whatever it is, whether it’s young boys, young girls, you know, of all faiths and colors, just to show up,” Owens said. ” “Exposure is important, it’s important for everyone to see someone who looks like them doing what they want to do.”

A world that once felt inaccessible to many is now becoming a part of them.

“I want to be an actress when I grow up,” Grant said. “Knowing that someone who looks like me can do something that I want to do, because I mean, you don’t really see people like me doing that. Big things like that.”

Owens and Ogin said this is not the time to divide. They are hoping everyone will come out and enjoy it, from young boys and their dads to people of all races and ages.

However, she added that this is a moment in particular she really wants little girls who look like her to be able to witness, smile and be happy.

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