Entertainment

My Interview With Auli’i Cravalho, Voice of ‘Moana’ in Disney’s MOANA

Disclosure: Disney sponsored travel, accommodations, and activities during my stay in Los Angeles.

I am back with another fun MOANA experience from my time in Los Angeles! And guess what? MOANA IS IN THEATERS TODAY!!!

So far, I have shared my experience on the red carpet3 excellent reasons why you should see the movie, my interview with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Today, I’m sharing our interview with the beautiful Auli’i Cravalho, who voices Moana in Disney’s MOANA. 🌴

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Auli'i Cravalho attends The World Premiere of Disney’s "MOANA" at the El Capitan Theatre on Monday, November 14, 2016 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Auli'i Cravalho

(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) Auli’i Cravalho

ABOUT MOANA

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. 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. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”), produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i.

THE INTERVIEW

I loved seeing the Polynesian culture play out in this film, it was so infused and beautiful. How does it feel for you and how do you think everyone’s gonna react to it?  

I’ll admit, I was a little wary before I got put into this role. Because I think anyone who hears that a movie’s going to be inspired by their culture, they want it to be done right. And we don’t want any misrepresentation, we want to make sure that what we feel our culture’s about, that it’s portrayed correctly on the screen. And that was how I felt. But after working on the film, I learned that we are made up of individuals who are elders, fishermen, and navigators.

My Interview With Auli'i Cravalho, Voice of ‘Moana’ in Disney’s MOANA

That every single component, whether it was just a small little dancing scene in there, was choreographed by a Polynesian dancer. The little details, even listening to the palm trees swaying in the background, they got all of that. Because that’s what it’s about, it’s in the fine details that I think make just the large production that much more special.

Before you started on the film how much Polynesian did you know?  

I 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 and it’s pretty connected into our curriculum.

MOANA is an adventurous, tenacious and compassionate 16-year-old who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. Along the way, she discovers the one thing she's always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker ("The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin," "The Princess & the Frog") and featuring newcomer Auli'i Cravalho as the voice of Moana, Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Moana" sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

MOANA is an adventurous, tenacious and compassionate 16-year-old who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. Along the way, she discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”) and featuring newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as the voice of Moana, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

What is the message you want children to take away from this movie?

I think the underlying theme of MOANA is something everyone can take away from. Yes, young women but also young men who are going to go into this era and be the old 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.

She’s determined and beautiful, 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.   

Demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) is reluctant to help adventurous teenager Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho), who is determined to become a master wayfinder and save her people. But Moana is destined to win him over with her charm, strength and unbridled spunk. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) is reluctant to help adventurous teenager Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho), who is determined to become a master wayfinder and save her people. But Moana is destined to win him over with her charm, strength and unbridled spunk. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Did you notice any of your personal mannerisms or characteristics making their way into the animation?

Yes. I have just learned not to touch my hair when I move it. But that’s something that Moana does. 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.

She smiles a lot, which is something I don’t quite do often. 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 is kind of uncanny. And now that she shares my voice.  

What were your thoughts when you saw it all come together?

I was really blown away. I have seen it in its kind of like chalked up stages of animation where it’s not fully complete yet. But now with its finished score, with like I said, the palm trees in the background. Or the laughing of the water, even. It blows me away, just the amount of detail that the animators and the sound guys have put in there. It’s incredible. And also seeing other people’s faces. That was so special. My mom was holding my hair.

My Interview With Auli'i Cravalho, Voice of ‘Moana’ in Disney’s MOANA

What has been the biggest challenge during the film process?  

I had a definite learning curve. I think that was certainly a challenge. Like I said, backyard plays were my thing. But I didn’t know how to work in a booth. For one it was cold. I don’t like being cold, I get cranky when I’m cold. And I didn’t have anyone to bounce off of. I wasn’t rubbing elbows with Dwayne Johnson like I thought I would be in the booth. 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 was 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.  

Disclosure: Disney sponsored travel, accommodations, and activities during my stay in Los Angeles.