In a recent Instagram post, Auli’i Cravalho announced she would not be reprising her role as Moana in the recently-announced live-action remake based on its eponymous 2016 source material.
When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and started my career. In this live-action retelling, I will not be reprising the role. I believe it is absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell. So, as an executive producer on the film, I cannot wait to help find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit, and emotional strength. I am truly honored to pass this baton to the next young woman of Pacific Island descent, to honor our incredible Pacific peoples, cultures, and communities that helped inspired her story. And I look forward to all the beautiful Pacific representation to come. Mahalo.
Auli’i debuted the wayfaring protagonist’s character in the animated feature, and additionally provided Moana’s Hawaiian-language voice in a partnership with the University of Hawai’i system, especially its West O’ahu campus. She also portrays the titular role in “Gone Fishing” (a 2017 short) and joined several other Disney Princess cameos in “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”
Cravalho has maintained an active career in television & film, on stage, and in various other media — and is currently involved in a motion picture adaptation of “Mean Girls: The Musical.”
‘Moana’ Comes to Life
At Disney’s April shareholders meeting, Dwayne Johnson appeared with his two daughters and a massive Maui hook, revealing the new film was in the works with his direct involvement.
The original film grossed almost $683 million worldwide, placing it among the top five financial performances for a Walt Disney Animation Studios film since 1994. A musical with intricate artistry and adventurous spirit, it also prioritized a respectful and culturally immersive celebration of people and environments across the Pacific Ocean’s countless islands. The two leads embodied this: Dwayne Johnson spent much of his life in Hawai’i and has family heritage rooted in Sāmoa, whilst Auli’i Cravalho is both kamaʻāina (someone of the land, referring to those who have called Hawai’i home regardless of ancestry) and kānaka (referring to someone who is of Native Hawaiian ancestry).
The ʻāina (land) is central to Hawaiian culture and life, reflected in the motto of Hawai’i first uttered by King Kamehameha III: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono — the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. It will be interesting to see how a live-action re-telling of this story incorporates the landscape of the islands and the message of ensuring their health and well-being.
In the parks, Journey of Water Inspired by Moana is anticipated to open later this year at EPCOT, whilst an area themed to “Zootopia” and “Moana” is rumored to be replacing Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
How do you feel about a remake of this film so soon after its original premiere? Are you excited to see what new opportunities and experiences may arise in a live-action version? Let us know in the comments.