I attended the #PetesDragonEvent courtesy of Disney and all of my expenses were covered. However, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!
Usually a few days before we arrive in LA for the press events we get a schedule of events. They are jammed packed and a ton of fun! There was a slot that said “interview with a mystery guest” and it was a great surprise when we got to meet Auli’i Cravalho – the voice of Moana.
She was a lovely young lady. She was polite, funny, and real! She shared about her journey from her island in Hawaii to the big screen as the voice of Moana. I don’t think Disney could have done a better job casting the voice!
Here are a few of my favorite parts of the interview. Her mom, Puanani Cravalho, was also part of the interview and I loved to watch the relationship between them. I hope you can get to know her a little better and fall in love with her onscreen character Moana! Make plans to see it in theaters this Thanksgiving November 23rd!
There was a lot of work that went into casting the voice of Moana and when Auli’i finally received the call – she had to keep it secret for 3 months!
She got the call that she got the part during summer school. She had told her friends that she had a “dentist appointment” but then she remembered she had a strawberry smoothie before that and her friends asked, “didn’t you go to a dentist appointment,” and she had to change her story and said, “did I say dentist I meant doctor.”
She couldn’t tell anyone – Auli’i and her mom were sworn to secrecy for 3 months! When everyone found out they were very supportive. Her friends were normal – well…they’re still fan girl, but they still make her take her own tray.
She actually didn’t even audition for the part! Auli’i had put together an audition to be the entertainment for a nonprofit event on the island. She and her friend put together a bunch of a Capella songs and they even beat boxed. It was a really fun experience and they sent it out but they didn’t get in and it was 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 her mom and to ask if Auli’i wanted to audition. They said yes please, and the rest is kind of history.
Question: Was all your animation work alone in a booth? Did you actually see anyone else ever?
Auli’i – I met Dwayne Johnson (voice of Maui) at the premier of Pete’s Dragon. 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 voices, but to see 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 like commits to the character but otherwise she’s just a really sweet kind woman who doesn’t sound like Gramma Tala.
(Speaking about Dwayne Johnson) Because he’s Polynesian just like I am. 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.
Question: 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 really awesome. She really embodies it because I, as someone who has grown up, been born and raised on the island of Hawaii, I love my culture. I go to an all Hawaiian school where you have to be Hawaiian to be admitted. And I speak the 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. 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, it’s so important
Question: What would you say has been your biggest lesson learned about yourself while filming this film?
Auli’i – Family, definitely family. 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.
It’s just been my mom and I for like for it’s been three years or so. I love being able to not have to feel like I have to share the whole 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.
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.
Question – 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 to do it again three or four more times, and just because there’s so many different ways you can say it. You add a lilt to the end of it or you say in a question. And all of that just changes the meaning and the drive behind it.
So to get that one perfect take took forever. 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.
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.
“Because as a Polynesian, we believe that everything is connected. So from Malta to Makai, from the ocean to the sea, we respect that. Because that’s- 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- really held that in there and 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” ~ Auli’i Cravalho
I saw a few extra clips from the movie during our time in LA and I think this is going to be a great family, friendly movie! Skip Black Friday shopping and take your family to see this movie! (You can get everything you need online!)
Click here to read more about Moana – including more clips, coloring, and activity pages!