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Aulii Cravalho Interview for Disney's Moana Movie

By November 23, 2016 , ,

When I met Auli'i Cravalho during the #MoanaEvent press day in L.A., I felt so amazed by her. Auli'i had such an energetic presence, along with great natural singing and acting ability. I totally understood why she was picked to be the voice and spirit of Moana.

Aulii Cravalho Interview for Disney's Moana Movie

Note: Disney and ABC TV invited me on this all expense paid trip to Los Angeles for the Moana Event and ABC TV Event. While I will share different events and activities during the trip, any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.

How she was picked is an interesting story, since the Disney team choose Auli'i, a young girl who was unknown and had no prior movie making experience!

You can learn more about what happened in the clip "Casting Moana - Introducing Auli‘i Cravalho"

Aulii Cravalho Interview for Disney's Moana Movie

After watching the clip, I really looked forward to the group interview with Auli'i Cravalho to learn more about her voicing Moana, her Polynesian culture and how she feels being the youngest Disney princess.

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Since Moana is based on the Polynesian culture and folktales, I asked Auli'i "Before you started on the film, how much Polynesian folklore did you know?

I knew a far amount. I kind of describe Maui’s mythology and the folklore of it as my bedtime stories. Because they really were.

The stories of him pulling oceans out of the sea, or slowing down the sun. I not only heard it before going to bed but also at my school. I go to an all Hawaiian school. So even voyaging across the open ocean, it’s something that we find deep pride in and it's pretty connected into our curriculum.

About the message she wants children and families to take away from Moana, Auli'i shared

I think the underlying theme of MOANA is something everyone can take away. Yes, young women but also young men who are going to go into this era and be the heroes and heroines of their own story. It’s so important. I’m 15, going on 16, and you know, I’ve found that I can live up to MOANA. And that she’s a true heroine.

But being strong doesn’t mean that you don’t have your weaker moments, you can’t be as connected emotionally either. Moana is all of that, and I think her journey of finding herself is something that everyone can take away from, girl or boy.

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On her personal mannerisms or characteristics being part of Moana's animation, Auli'i shared

I have learned not to touch my hair when I'm nervous. But that’s something that Moana does. All through the recording process, I would touch my hair or my flower. You’ll see at some point, when work needs to get done, Moana puts her hair up. Which is something that I do a lot in the booth because as luxurious as these locks are, they have to go up at some point because work has to get done.

There is some mannerisms in there. And of course she was actually designed before I had even stepped in there. So the fact that she kinda looks like me and shares my voice is kind of uncanny.

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photo credit: Auli'i Cravalho facebook page

On challenges during the film process, Auli'i shared

I had a definite learning curve. I think that was certainly a challenge. I didn’t know how to work in a booth. And I didn’t have anyone to bounce off of. I wasn’t rubbing elbows with Dwayne Johnson like I thought in the booth.

But I did have a writer though, Jared Bush. And he really helped me throughout the entire process. Because it was all new to me.

And the directors as well. They made me feel right at home. They understood that this is my first time doing this. But that’s what they wanted. And I think that’s also something that makes Moana relatable, that I’m not a seasoned professional. But I think the emotion that I bring to her is something that is very true. And I was able to connect to Moana on a deeper level as well. So though the learning curve was there and the challenges there, I think I overcame it pretty well.

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For the scenes where I would have to either be sad or upset, it’s all about getting into the mindset. I think particularly in the scenes with Gramma Tala. Those were the hardest scenes for me. And I can tear up just thinking about them, because I always imagine my mom as my Gramma Tala. I didn’t have a chance to bond with my grandmother before she passed, unfortunately.

But whenever I think of someone who pushes me beyond what I think I can do, and supports me and love on me just unconditionally, that’s my mom. So in those scenes, that’s what I thought of. I thought of my situation with my mom.

That’s also what makes me look up to her so much. Is that she can help her family in that way. So having to just put myself into there, and when we get too much or when I was finally done recording those scenes, I would be like, okay, stop production, with tears in my eyes. And I would open the door and Mom would literally be there. And we would have a ten minute break of just being, getting out of that head-space. Yeah, and there were a lot of hugs.

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On how it feels to be the youngest Disney princess, Auli'i shared

That’s pretty incredible. I'll be the same age as the character, my birthday is on November 22nd and the film comes out on the 23rd. And Moana’s 16 in the film. It kinda just worked out like that. I’m really proud of the character that Disney has portrayed on screen.

I love that, not only will people look up to her but people will begin looking up to me. That’s something I can’t quite wrap my mind around just yet. I'm a 15 year old who has so much more to learn. And I have so much more to grow. I just am really excited for everyone to see her on screen because I find Moana is someone that I look up to.

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On what next projects she's working towards, Auli'i shared

I have no idea what’s on the horizon for me. But I had kind of focused my thoughts and my direction on Science. For some interesting reason fate has decided to make my interests timed to one another.

So what I was working on was actually – I was in a science and molecular cell biology program. And I was focusing on how our sunscreen, all though very important for us to wear, it’s incredibly harmful to our natural reefs and our oceans.

So what I’m hoping to do and kind of complete as my research project in the future, is suntan lotion that is better for us.

The natural algae in our system is able to absorb and refract so much light. Which gives it it’s wonderful fluorescent sometimes deep green color. And with that I’m hoping to create suntan lotion that is better for the environment. I believe, just the land and the world stems from our oceans. We need to protect it.

As kind of a Hawaiian saying, “If we protect the ocean, if we love on it, it will love on us”. And return the blessing to us. So hopefully in the future, I’ll continue in this field of film. As well as kind of a passion of mine which is science. We’ll see how it works out.

As you can see, while Auli'i Cravalho is new to the world of films, she's clearly both very talented and smart. I'll add that she's also VERY sweet in person. And like her character Moana, I can see Auli'i doing amazing things during her life's journey.

Wishing her all the best! Make sure to come out and "meet" her when Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana” opens in U.S. theaters TODAY Nov. 23, 2016.

Disney's MOANA poster


From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people.

During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder.

Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

Voice Cast: Auli‘i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk.

Directed by: Ron Clements and John Musker
Produced by: Osnat Shurer
Featuring music by: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i

Visit the official MOANA website - www.movies.disney.com/moana

Like on Facebook: www.facebook.com/disneymoana
Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/disneymoana
Follow on Instagram: www.instagram.com/disneyanimation

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