Disney’s “Moana” Casts 14-year-old Hawaii Native Auli’i Cravalho
Big news for Disney fans today – “Moana” the Polynesian princess now has a voice in 14-year-old Hawaii native Auli’i Cravalho, and everyone is thrilled. Well, almost everyone.
Adding a social media twist to the film, Disney had an open casting call for the role and invited young girls of Polynesian descent to send in auditions via YouTube. So it was smart of them to set up a heartwarming viral video of the moment Auli’i and her mother found out she got the part.
The movie is about a young teenager from 2,000 years ago who sets sail to fulfill her ancestors’ quest. Since this is Disney’s very first Polynesian princess who will become an icon for little girls not only in Hawaii but across the Pacific in countries like Samoa and New Zealand, it was important that they find the right actor – someone who could both play the part and represent the heritage of the film.
“Moana is such an amazing character,” says Cravalho. “She’s brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it, and I think that’s something that I can relate to as well. I just love watching how she goes along in this wonderful movie and grows as a person and helps her culture along the way.”
She will be working alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who will play a demigod named Maui whom Moana encounters during her travels.
As with any news about social media campaigns, there’s a weird fandom twist. Fans of Fifth Harmony, a girl group with a One Direction-esque following, had been clamoring for Polynesian singer Dinah Jane Hansen to get the part – and now they’re disappointed or straight-up mad that she didn’t.
Cheer up, Harmonizers – Dinah will still be rocking the music scene. The more diversity we get in pop culture, the better for everyone.