Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed some amazing celebrities and made many memories. But, the one with MOANA’s Auli’i Cravalho and her mother, Puanani Cravalho, (loved her) has been the most fun yet. They’re both too sweet and it was like hanging out with family! We bonded through multiple rounds of tears and hugs. Plus, the dynamics between Auli’i and her mother were so heart-warming. You could tell at a glance just how close those two are.
Moana Interview w/ Auli’i Cravalho & Puanani — About the Role
Auli’i Cravalho voices Moana in Disney’s new animated film of the same name, MOANA. Since the film is based on the land and people of the Polynesian Islands, Disney wanted to find a fresh new star who embodies the caring but willful heroine. Auli’i Cravalho is all that and a bag of chips (totally showing my age with this phrase).
Before Auli’i and her mom came in the room, we saw a touching clip of the initial reaction to being chosen for the role. It was so cute how the staff kind of teased Auli’i. Instead of directly telling her that she got the role, they told her that she needed to come in for another test. She was so shocked when they broke the news to her. But, since Disney wanted to keep her role under wraps for a while, Auli’i could only tell her mom. For 3-4 months, the mother-daughter pair couldn’t tell anyone about the happy news. That must have been crazy hard to keep secret!
So I wanted to tell all my friends . . . but I didn’t tell anyone. — Auli’i Cravalho.
No you couldn’t. We were sworn to secrecy . . . for a little over three months. — Puanani Cravalho.
Auli’i did most of her voice work solo. That was something she was not prepared for. Plus, she found it challenging to repeat a line several times to get it just right. When finally meeting her co-stars, she was impressed to see the dedication and talent they displayed. Of course, that includes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Moana Interview w/ Auli’i Cravalho & Puanani — A Polynesian Princess
When asking about how Auli’i felt about portraying a Polynesian princess, her pride of playing this role was oozing out.
Moana is definitely a Disney character which is something that I totally love because she’s totally bad butt. She’s really awesome. As someone who has been born and raised on the island of Hawaii, the Big Island, I love my culture. I go to an all-Hawaiian school where you have to be Hawaiian to be admitted and I speak some of the language as well. To have such a beautiful young teen who shows that it’s okay to go on a journey to find yourself, it’s wonderful because that message is universal to everyone.
Also, way-finding isn’t just something they made up for animation purposes. It was truly almost lost in the Polynesian culture, which is something that not a lot of people know. So, the fact that it’s being shined in such a positive light and the fact that there is now a resurgence of navigation and way-finding in real day-to-day life, is so important. — Auli’i Cravalho.
Surprisingly, Auli’i didn’t initially audition for the role of Moana. Together with her friends, she put together an audition for a nonprofit event on the island. They didn’t get chosen but the Disney casting director saw Auli’i and asked her to come in and give it a try. Then, she got the role. She always did enjoy performing even as a girl. By the way, I loved the story about her singing voice…
I credit my singing voice to my mom. She didn’t believe in binkies so I screamed… — Auli’i Cravalho.
I figured let her cry it out, you know. Not going to stick one of those things in her mouth, nor the thumb. — Puanani Cravalho.
Right. So I developed great lungs. — Auli’i Cravalho.
But, Auli’i realizes how tough this industry is to get into. Though she enjoys it, she is also looking into other careers in law or science, such as cellular molecular biology. What an ambitious young lady!
Moana Interview w/ Auli’i Cravalho & Puanani — A Mom’s Perspective
As a mom with a daughter that’s the same age, I was glad to hear Puanani’s feelings about her daughter’s new role. In fact, we were all in tears during this part. She told us how her daughter is really focused on academics but how performing arts is what she did for fun. It was secondary and was her way of getting a break and recharging from the honors and AP classes.
When this came along and she had this opportunity, a part of me was afraid because we’re going into an area that I don’t know. We are outside of what my knowledge and understanding is. So, I’m thrilled and I’m honored and I’m happy for her.
I’m watching her and I know my child. I know every movement, the hair, the twist, the brow, and everything. What it says to me is that she truly is enjoying this and that makes it okay. So I’m doing my mommy part and I’m staying close with her, because I need to be on this journey with her. But, she’s happy and she’s thriving, and we’re in good hands. — Puanani Cravalho.
I really respect the relationship these two have. Auli’i is a talented and charismatic young woman and I’m sure she’ll add new dimensions to the character of Moana. At the same time, she has a loving and supportive mom to keep her grounded during all these new experiences. It was such a pleasure spending time with these gals and I hope you enjoyed a peek into the interview as well!
Moana will be in theaters November 23, 2016!
- Visit the official website: http://disney.com/moana
- Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/disneymoana
- Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DisneyAnimation
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney in honor of the Pete’s Dragon movie. All opinions are my own.