Disney auditioned hundreds of talented young women throughout the Pacific Islands for their new animated lead character Moana. They chose 14-year-old Native Hawaiian Auli’I Cravalho. According to the casting director Rachel Sutton, Auli’l “was the very last girl who I saw on my last day of casting.”
Auli’l’s mother Paunani Cravalho said weeks went by before her daughter got a call back. During the online call back (Auli’l in Honolulu, the Disney group in Burbank), Auli’l says the directors (Ron Clements and John Musker) and producer (Osnat Shurer), “tricked me.” They told her to say the lines with more happiness, “as if we just offered you the role.” Auli’l acquiesced and then the Disney team told her “we’re not pretending, we want you to be the voice of Moana.” Moana will hit theaters Thanksgiving 2016.