When a NEW Disney princess is announced everyone awaits to see if she will take her place among our favorite princesses of days gone by. When MOANA was first announced and I had a small glimpse at D23 I was more than excited. I was enamored. The visuals and the music that has been teased in the past few months had us all on the edge of our seat. Now that I have officially seen the movie…not just once, but twice mind you I can say with no uncertainty that MOANA is a true Disney Princess in every way. You relate to her. She pokes fun at herself. She wants something bigger than herself and we can all say a huge thank you to Auli’i Cravalho for that. She is so amazing as MOANA that I can’t fathom that this is her first job. She sat down with us Mommy Bloggers for an interview and here are the best parts:
Q: Can you share with us what it was like to hear that you were MOANA?
AULI’I: I was called into technically another audition where I was told I would need to do just some more ad lib. And that was after I had already flown up to LA and I had done some recording up there. I had tried out the first time in my life in front of like real life people. Besides my mom, you know. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] I had a lot of fun. Then that was my kind of second callback, I suppose. They told me I’d just do some more adlib in moments like, okay. I had worked, you’re gonna go with your aunt, the world is gonna continue. This is awesome but like, the world continues. So she went to work and I went with my aunt to the audition process. I did more adlib and they were like, “You know, could you say it a little bit more happy, like for instance if we gave you the role, how would you react?” And I was like, “Okay! Wow!” I gave forth my best shot. That’s when they told me I was gonna be in MOANA. I was crying and I was so happy. Just thrilled that, first of all, they thought that I was like worthy enough for this role. I didn’t think that I was – I could never imagine in my wildest dreams that I would be voicing this character. But I was just so happy and blessed. I told my mom and then I had another cry fest. So. It was really good.
Q: Before you started on the film how much Polynesian culture did you know?
AULI’I: I knew a little, 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 (comfort), It’s pretty connected into our curriculum.
Q: What do you want the take away from this movie to be.
AULI’I: 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 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. She’s a true heroine. 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.
Q: Did you notice any of your personal mannerisms or characteristics making their way into the animation?
AULI’I: Yes. [LAUGHS] I have just learned not to touch my hair when I move it. That’s something that Moana does. Also the recording process, I won’t be able to 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. Work has to get done. 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.
Q: What were your thoughts when you saw it all come together?
AULI’I: 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. Where she would go bald, or her skirt would just flap in the air. I was loving it then, I cried doing the songs. 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.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge or something that you learned during the film process?
AULI’I: 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 kind of work in a booth. For one it was cold. I don’t like being cold, I get cranky when I’m cold. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] Uh, 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. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] 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, you know, this is your first time doing this. But that’s what we want. And I think that’s also something that makes Moana relatable, that I’m not a seasoned professional. 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 [LAUGHS] overcame it pretty well.
In Theaters Nov. 23
For centuries, the greatest sailors in the world masterfully navigated the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, 3,000 years ago, their voyages stopped for a millennium – and no one knows exactly why.
From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who is inspired to leave the safety and security of her island on a daring journey to save her people. Inexplicably drawn to the ocean, Moana (voice of Auliʻi Cravalho) convinces the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) to join her mission, and he reluctantly helps her become a wayfinder like her ancestors who sailed before her. Together, they voyage across the open ocean on an action-packed adventure, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills her quest 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, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.
***Disclosure: I attended the #MOANAEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***