As a blogger, I get a lot of amazing opportunities with Disney. But my the time I got to interview Moana is topping the list. This special interview took place during the Pete’s Dragon event press trip I attended this summer. All of my thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own.
Puanani Cravalho is raising an incredible daughter. Auli’i is charismatic, bright and amazingly talented.
What made this interview with Moana so special is we got to talk to her Mom too. It was full of laughter and tears, and gave me insight on what makes Disney’s newest princess so special.
Sometimes the stars align, and you find your way when you least expect it. Auli’i didn’t set as a wayfinder. She didn’t intend to audition for Moana. In fact, she jokingly credits her strong lungs and singing voice from her mother forcing her to cry it out as an infant. A tape that Auli’i and her friends made for a audition for a nonprofit event on the Island was seen by a casting director for Disney. Auli’i and her friends didn’t make it into the event, but I think that’s because she had a much different and bigger path to follow.
It was a hard secret to keep, for over 3 months. It’s just Auli’i and her mom, Puanani. She (Puanani) would tell us Auli’i would come home, hug her and say “Mommy, I’m Moana. I’m like yeah you sure are sweetie, you know, just be kind…” Aul’i shared that she loved not having to feel feel like she had share it with the whole world right away.
It was a good secret.
Auli’i tells us that this was her first Disney film, but it’s not going to be her last.
So, I’m sure you’re wondering, did we ask her about meeting The Rock?
Of course we did!
Before Auli’i could say anything, her mom filled us in.
“I did some Rock climbing for all of us. I’m just saying you know, I took one for the team,sweat and everything”
Obviously, Auli’i was a bit embarrassed, and the room was full of laughter, we were a bunch of teenagers for a moment. Then she shared her thoughts on him.
He loves his character, Maui. And he’s Polynesian like Auli’i. She spoke about how focused he is (and how much he juggles his different jobs) – and how the commitment to his character and the amount of emotion was almost overwhelming.
How does Auli’i feel about her culture being embodied into a Disney princess?
Moana really embodies it. (she’s a “bad butt”)“And 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. “
She speaks about how way finding was something that was almost lost in Polynesian culture, and now there is now a resurgence of navigation and way finding in real day-to-day life.
Moana shares Auli’i’s love of her family and her people. “when you go to Hawaii, you’ll notice like the ambience and you’ll notice everyone is friendly because we all kind of think for each other. “
“Because as a Polynesian, we believe that, that everything is connected. So from Malta to Makai, from the ocean to the sea, we respect that. Because, we use everything. Everything. So if we take care of the land or we take care of the ocean, then it’ll take care of us.”
We’ll see Auil’i again, but for now, go see Moana!
This isn’t the last we’ve seen of Auli’i. But right now, she’s still at home, with her mom Puanani, doing her chores, clearing her own trays after eating lunch with her friends and thinking about going to college.
And her mom? “I’m doing my mommy part and I’m staying close with her, because I need to be on this journey with her,but and she’s happy and she’s thriving, and we’re in good hands. So this canoe is sailing and we’re sailing well and- and do you know, we’re moving forward, we really are. “
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MOANA arrives in theatres everywhere on November 23rd!