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The Little Mermaid make-up artist responds to Ursula criticism

“I find that very offensive.”

By Emily Maskell

Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in The Little Mermaid. (Image: Twitter/@DisneyStudios)

Melissa McCarthy’s The Little Mermaid hair and makeup artist has received heavy criticism for his work creating the villainous Ursula.

The character is famously inspired in part by the iconic drag performer, Divine – the star of John Waters’ Pink Flamingos.

Disney’s Twitter account shared a time-lapse of Melissa undergoing her Ursula transformation for the new live-action rendition of the 1989 animation.

Following the new movie’s release several drag queens have come forward with their disappointment over Ursula’s updated look.

New York City’s Sierra La Puerta posted a photo of McCarthy as Ursula with the caption: “Now when we said Ursula was inspired by a drag queen we didn’t mean one who had only been doing it for 3 months bc-”

The tweet now has over 7000 likes.

Kerri Colby, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 alum, responded on Twitter: “Absolutely why we should hire up and coming queer artists with a pulse on the present and a vision for the future more often. Yes I agree, this is that.”

In an interview with Insider, Peter Swords King, an Oscar-winning makeup artist who has worked on Lord Of The Rings and Mary Poppins refuted the criticism. 

“I find that very offensive,” he said. “Why can’t I do as good a job as a queer makeup artist?”

“That’s ridiculous,” he then added. “That’s trying to claim it and that’s fine, if that’s what they wanna do, but don’t put people down because they’re not what they want it to be.”

King also said his design of Ursula wasn’t “based on Divine,” noting he had met the drag legend in London. 

Furthermore, he noted he and McCarthy discussed a mutual appreciation for drag queens.

“We discussed everything. I mean, we both laughed about how much we love drag queens and drag makeup and stuff. But it wasn’t based on any drag acts at all,” he said.

This slightly contradicts what McCarthy has said about Ursula. She has previously said she “100%” used Divine and drag more broadly as an influence.

The Little Mermaid is in cinemas now.