Auli'i Cravalho is a Native Hawaiian.
via youtube screencapture
Out of hundreds, one. Disney reports that the search for the voice of Moana, its latest animated heroine, took the company all over the Pacific Islands, and that fourteen-year-old Auli'i Cravalho was the very last of hundreds of girls the casting directors saw for the part. A follow-up audition later, and the Native Hawaiian had the job.
A promotional video shows the tricky way Disney execs told the teenager that she had landed the part. They began a videoconference with the actress for a supposed “callback,” then asked Cravalho to improvise as if she had just received news that she would become Moana.
After Cravalho let out some huge smiles and giggles, the movie’s team dropped the bomb: “We’re here collectively…we’re not pretending: We want you to be the voice of Moana in our movie, we really do.”
Watch Cravalho’s sweet reaction here:
Walt Disney Animation Studio’s Moana is slated for 2016. It tells the story of a spunky Polynesian teenager on a quest to fulfill the wishes of her ancestors. “It’s set in the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, and Moana, a born navigator, sets sail in search of a fabled island,” Disney explained in a blog post annoucning the project last year.
The heroine represents the venerated movie studio’s latest push to include more women of color in its famous stable of princesses. Moana joins Pocahontas (from Pocahontas), Jasmine (from Aladdin), Mulan (from Mulan) and Tiana (from The Princess and the Frog). Cravalho herself will be the fifth woman of color to voice a princess, joining actresses Lea Salonga (the singing voice of Jasmine and Mulan), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana), Irene Bedard (the speaking voice of Pocahontas), and Ming Na-Wen (the speaking voice of Mulan).