We’ll admit it, we’re SUPER into Disney — especially Disney princesses. We love reimaginings of our animated regal ladies, from what they would look like in the horror genre to what they would look like as hot dogs (yes, totally serious). But we really love the real ladies behind the Disney Princesses.
And that’s exactly why we were so pumped to hear about Disney’s new film, Moana, set to be released in 2016, because we’re getting a NEW PRINCESS, GUYS. There was talk about Fifth Harmony’s Dinah Jane taking on the role, but it turns out that those were just rumors, because we now know exactly who will be playing the spunky Polynesian princess: 14-year-old Auli’i Cravalho from Oahu, Hawaii, who lives in the town of Mililani.
When Disney Animations began their quest to find the perfect voice for Moana, it was like a dream come true for Auli’i. “From baby time to now, I wanted to be a Disney princess and then I wanted to be a singer or an actress,” she told People.
Auli’i is a soprano in her school’s glee club, and she has a passion for singing. However, she didn’t think she was good enough to audition, and she was super nervous to give it a shot. “I was getting through my freshman year, and there were already so many great submissions over YouTube,” she explained. But it turns out that playing the new princess was set in the stars for Auli’i. When an agent in Oahu discovered Auli’i’s unbelievable talent after hearing her sing at a charity competition, she took her to Los Angeles. . . and the rest is history. After auditioning hundreds of young women throughout the Pacific Islands, they chose her. “Auli’i was the very last girl that I saw on my last day of casting,” casting director Rachel Sutton said.
The directors knew she was the perfect choice, and they even tricked her at the end by having her do an “online callback session” where, when she was ad-libbing, they asked her to be happier, saying, “Imagine if we gave you the part of Moana.” Then, they said with grins on their faces, “We’re not pretending now. We want you to be the voice of Moana.” Auli’i is, of course, over the moon — but not only to be a Disney princess in general. She’s in love with Moana and everything she stands for (and we agree to the max). “Moana is such an amazing character,” Auli’i told People. “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.” Another thing that has got Auli’i totally thrilled? Working with Dwayne Johnson, aka “The Rock,” who will be playing Maui, a demigod Moana meets on her travels when she’s setting out to fulfill her ancestors’ quest. “I am very excited about that, my gosh,” says Auli’i told People. “I’ve never heard him sing before so it’s going to be really interesting!” And The Rock is super pumped to work with her, too. “What’s amazing about this story is that [Auli’i] didn’t think she was good enough so she never auditioned,” he wrote on Instagram. “Fortunately, one of our Oahu casting agents discovered her singing at a charity competition and the rest is history. An awesome lesson to all young kids out there. . . work hard, have confidence in yourselves and never think you’re not good enough because you never know what the future holds. Congratulations Auli’i! Can’t wait to work with you and watch you bring this new Disney Princess to life.”
Congratulations, Auli’i! We know you will make an absolutely kickass Moana, and we can’t WAIT to see what you will bring to this amazing character. Check out People’s video about Auli’i’s casting below, and be prepared to be totally charmed by her spirit, her voice and her giant smile.