Thomas Rhett Took His Daughters to See 'The Little Mermaid' & Their Experience Proves Representation Matters

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins recently took their three oldest daughters to see the live-action Little Mermaid movie in theaters, and the young girls’ excitement over Ariel is another important instance that shows representation matters at every age.

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After seeing the new movie on Tuesday, Akins shared an adorable Instagram post with a heartwarming caption. Alongside a photo of herself and her country crooner husband standing with their daughters (Willa Gray, 7, Ada James, 5, and Lennon Love, 3) at the theater, the mom of four shared how thrilled her younger girls were at how much Ariel looks like their big sister.

A post shared by Lauren Akins (@laur_akins)

“The Little Mermaid with my favorite mermaids 🧜🏾‍♀️🦀🪸🍿,” Akins’ caption began. “Getting to see the girls’ excitement that ‘the real’ Ariel looks like their sister just turned my heart into a giant puddle 🤎🥹🥰😭  pure magic✨,” she wrote of the impact of Halle Bailey’s historic Disney role.

Fans felt similarly teary-eyed in the comments, with one person writing, “Not me crying over the caption 😭 representation is so important.” Another commented, “THIS is why representation matters! What a beautiful moment for your daughters and your family. Willa Gray is a real life princess!”

  • Why Representation Matters So Much

    Image Credit: Kate Green/Getty Images for Disney.

    Halle Bailey, a Black actress, playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid shows little kids — and people of all ages — that they are worthy of being in the same spaces that white people have traditionally solely occupied.

    Uplifting diversity, especially at a time when America is in such a divided state, lets people of color know they are seen and valued — just like Willa Gray’s sisters cherished seeing Ariel was a beautiful Black girl, too.

    It’s equally as important that parents, especially those of Black, multi-racial, and other non-white children, are exposing their children to movies and art and other mediums that affirm people of color are worthy, beautiful, valued, and just as important as any other person, the same way Rhett and Akins did by making The Little Mermaid an exciting and memorable — yet normal — experience for their girls.

  • Willa’s Adoption Story

    Image Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images.

    Rhett and Akins adopted their eldest daughter from Uganda in 2017. The musician told Esquire in April 2022 that the process was grueling, admitting he “gave up so many times,” but never on Willa.

    “Lauren was in Uganda for seven-plus months, and I was there for three months and traveling back and forth to do shows in America. And it just felt like this was never going to happen,” he explained.

    The “Die a Happy Man” singer described how badly he wanted the adoption to be finalized, sharing, “I was like, ‘How many more hoops do we got to jump through? We’ve done the case study. We’ve met everybody we need to meet. You’ve seen us interact. Everything on paper is here. Why is this happening?’”

    But after months of waiting, the couple officially got the go-ahead to bring Willa home to the States to join their blossoming family.

  • Willa’s Younger Sisters

    Image Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMA.

    Just months after finalizing Willa’s adoption, Rhett and Akins welcomed another daughter, Ada. Lennon followed in 2020, and in 2021, the couple welcomed their youngest daughter, Lillie.

    In February 2023, the country musician shared that he’s “good” when it comes to having more kids. Rhett said on Audacity’s Totally Private show, “I think when me and Lauren first got married, five was the number. We’re sittin’ at a solid four right now. I don’t know, I think for us, it’s whatever the Lord has got in store … Personally, selfishly, I’m good.” 

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