14 year old Hawaii native Auli’i Cravalho will be providing the voice of the lead character in Walt Disney Animation Studio’s Moana. Cravalho has already started work on the 2016 release, joining Dwayne Johnson in the animated adventure film directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin). Osnat Shurer is producing and Disney’s aiming for a November 23, 2016 theatrical release.
The pretty teen apparently auditioned for a totally unrelated project, but the casting director remembered her and suggested her for the role in Moana. “Her audition was fantastic – she was such a raw talent,” said producer Shurer. “Auli’i was among a small number of girls we brought back for a second round of auditions. Then we flew her and her mom over to audition at our studios in Burbank.”
“I didn’t think I would have a chance,” said Cravalho. “When I was little, I used to dance around the house singing at the top of my lungs. In my mind, that was performing and I loved the feeling of it. But I never imagined being in a Disney movie, being Moana—representing my culture in that way.”
Director Musker said Cravalho had a fearless quality to her auditions which caught his attention. “She has a playful, mischievous wit,” explained Musker. “She can project vulnerability, she doesn’t seem intimidated at all by the challenges ahead, and her Polynesian background has helped shape her connection to family, hard work and music. These are all qualities she shares with Moana.”
Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast South Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one today knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated adventure about a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson), and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous fiery creatures and impossible odds.