I was invited on an all expenses paid trip by Disney to cover #Moana & #PetesDragonEvent. All opinions are my own.
I am counting down the days until Disney’s MOANA arrives in theaters Nov. 23rd! It is going to be such a good movie!
When I was in LA back in August I had the pleasure of being able to meet Auli’i Cravalho who voices Moana in Disney’s upcoming animated film MOANA (which opens Nov. 23rd). She is seriously the sweetest and most down to earth girl. And she is so animated and the way she lights up as she talks about this movie and her experience is so genuine. I loved getting to talk with her as well as her mom, Puanani, who was also there with her in the interview. They are both so kind.
Was all your animation work alone in a booth? Or did you record with anyone else?
Auli’i: Not until-
Puanani: Just day before yesterday.
Auli’i: -was when I met Dwayne and then a few weeks ago, I met Rachel House who plays Gramma Tala and Temuera Morrison who played my dad. Which it was interesting because I’ve gotten so used to like voices, but to see like their faces with it and to kind of match the personality. For instance, the person who plays Gramma Tala, Rachel House, that isn’t her actual voice. And she totally commits to the character but otherwise she’s just a really sweet kind woman who doesn’t sound like Gramma Tala. But still embodies the character which was interesting. And Temuera Morrison who has an amazing accent. It was interesting to meet him because he’s an actual father. So I got to meet his daughter as well and it was really nice to see just him as a dad. And I got to envision him more so as a dad.
Tell us about meeting The Rock.
Auli’i: He was very nice and very professional. It was interesting because this whole process of recording without meeting someone was something that I was not prepared to do. I assumed that we would be in the same booth.
He is very focused, which is interesting because he has so many different jobs just throughout the day that while we were on the content shoot, he was of course talking to other people, and trying to work out flights and all that stuff. So what kind of just brought to mind I suppose was just how dedicated he can be to one thing and then convert his attention to another. And he loves the character Maui so much. Because he’s Polynesian just like I am. So to see that he’s so committed to the character just made it almost overwhelming. Just the amount of emotion that I know I put into- I know that he puts the same amount.
How do you feel about family and having your culture embodied into a Disney princess?
Auli’i: Moana is definitely a Disney character which is something that I totally love, because she’s totally kick butt, she’s really awesome. She really, I think, embodies it because as someone who has grown up, been born and raised on the island of Hawaii so 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 the language as well.
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. And also because 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, it’s so important
What would you say has been your biggest lesson learned about yourself while filming this film?
Auli’i: Family, definitely. When I first got the role, there was no one that I could tell. And so we would literally have those conversations at night and there was no one else that I kind of felt like I had to tell. Because it was fine, it’s just been my mom and I for it’s been three years or so. I love being able to not have to feel like I have to share everything with the whole world, which is why I’m not very good at the Snap Chat, and I need help with my social media. Because I kind of just like having just us.
I love my family and the fact that Moana kind of shares that- because she loves her people and I think a lot of people say 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. And that’s something that I had to kind of get used to here, because it’s not like that. I don’t mean that in a negative way but I’m not sure it can be taken any other way. It’s interesting. Everyone is for themselves here, which is great. If you succeed, good for you. But for everyone that I’ve ever met in Hawaii- It’s like you made it and you made it for us. And it’s I just feel so proud of that.
With this being your first film, what’s been the most amazing thing and the strangest thing?
Auli’i: Having to record a line like ten times in a row and then having that like three or four more times just because there’s so many different ways you can say it. So to get that one perfect take took forever. But it was worth it, it was totally worth it. And then I got to meet the animators, which was something that not many voice actresses or actors get to do, and the animators don’t usually get to see them either. They just hear the voice and then just work, but I got to animate some of it. They work overtime and they have overtime dinners practically every night of the week, they work on weekends. And the fact that they have families and they spend so much time on such an important film to me, we bonded in a way that I don’t think either one of us really expected.
How has it been with everyone finding out about your role? Extended family, friends?
Auli’i: It’s been really good, everyone is really supportive of it. I think we got like banana bread the first like week or so when everyone found out. Aside from that, it’s been pretty normal. My friends are normal.
Puanani: Keeping it real, I think it’s about raising a well balanced person.
I was wondering what actually inspired you to audition and if you had any previous experience?
Auli’i: Well I didn’t initially audition for it. My friends and I actually put together an audition to be the entertainment for a nonprofit event on the island. And we put together like a bunch of acapella songs and my friend beat boxed and it was just a really fun experience. And we sent it out and we tried our best and we didn’t get in and it was like devastating for a second. But what happened was, the casting director for Disney saw that audition because she was going through those auditions as well. So through like an intricate web, it just kind of arose and when she emailed mom and I to ask if I wanted to audition, it was like, fantastic yes please, and the rest is kind of history.
Is this something you wanted to do, did you want to go into this kind of business?
Auli’i: I think yeah, I would put on fashion shows in the middle of the hallway, because we had a black carpet, which was it didn’t matter if it was red or whatever, but it was my carpet, thank you very much. I credit my singing voice to my mom because she didn’t believe in binkies. So I screamed for-
Puanani: I figured, let her cry it out, you’re going to cry it out yeah.
Auli’i: Right, so I developed wonderful lungs. But I think what I always knew was that it’s just a hard industry to get into. So I as of right now I love this so much and I would love to pursue a career in this. But at the same time I started pursuing or started looking into either a law career or I’m really into science, like cellular molecular biology. I would love to pursue this but at the same time I’m super glad that I kind of thought of the future and what might or may not happen. Because I’m going to study no matter what.
What were your thoughts when you read the script?
Auli’i: I didn’t really understand that this was a Polynesian film until after I read the script. So when I read it, I was like okay, that’s not a Hawaiian word. I know that’s not a Hawaiian word. That sounds Samoan. And I did research on it and sure enough because Hawaii is one of the more newer island chains, they pulled from more of an ancient background, which is great. Because if they’re making the story line like thousands of years earlier, Hawaii would not have been created. So the fact that they’ve done that research is amazing. And when I read the script, I was just I was surprised by, again, just how much research they did.
As a Polynesian, we believe that everything is connected. So from Malta to Makai, from the ocean to the sea, we respect that. 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. And the script really held that in there. I remember all I could think of is whoever gets this is going to do it such great justice. They have no choice because it’s an awesome script.
Puanani, what are your thoughts of your daughter doing this?
Puanani: Auli’i, she’s really great and she’s focused on academics and that’s just really very important. And that’s something that she’s really very good about. And then this is performing arts. Singing and acting whether or not it’s in church or the back yard or in part of school was something that she did for fun. To kind of take a break off of the honors and the A-P classes and some of those things, this is what she did for her that fed the soul.
So the fact that this came along and I didn’t raise her in this way. I didn’t take her to the auditions, we didn’t do all of these kind of things, where some are groomed from a young age. This was just something that she did for fun and if we could fit it into the schedule and if we could go ahead and assure all the important academic classes are taken care of, then absolutely. Fit in some of that fun stuff, I think that’s very important.
And this opportunity was just so amazing and it truly is. I’m thrilled and I’m honored and I’m happy for her and what makes me happy is that I’m watching her and like I know my child, I know every movement, and what it says to me is that she truly is enjoying this. And that makes it okay. And to be in the hands of Disney, we’re in good hands. And 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. So this canoe is sailing and we’re sailing well.
Do you have a favorite Disney movie?
Auli’i: Mulan is my favorite. She’s awesome and I think what really resonated was like, she always wants to honor her family and she totally broke the gender norm of going to war and doing what she felt was necessary. So that totally resonated with me.
It was truly delightful getting to chat with Auli’i and her mom. She was such a sweetheart and took a group photo with us.
MOANA arrives in theaters everywhere on November 23rd!
Visit the official MOANA website
Like MOANA on Facebook
Follow MOANA on Twitter, #Moana
“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 once-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”) and produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.”-Disney