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After months of anticipation and hundreds of auditions throughout the Pacific Islands, the voice of Disney’s “Moana” has finally been cast. Moana will be voiced by 14-year-old Auli‘i Cravalho, according to People Magazine. Cravalho, who is Native Hawaiian, is a high school freshman on Oahu and sings soprano in glee club.
Asian-American media watchers are especially excited that a Native Hawaiian has been cast in this landmark role of the first Pacific Islander Disney princess.
“Everything I've seen and read about Moana makes me really excited for this movie,” Keith Chow, founding editor of The Nerds of Color, told NBC News. “Like it or not the Disney Princess brand is hugely influential and to see a character like Moana — who will be played by an actual Native Hawaiian actress — added to that lineup is a win all the way around. On the heels of 'Big Hero 6,' which also featured a diverse cast voiced by diverse actors, it's nice to see Disney realize that the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is a market worth serving.”
Spotted by an Oahu casting agent at a charity competition, Cravalho was brought to Los Angeles to audition. Casting director Rachel Sutton remarked in a video, “Auli‘i was the very last girl that I saw on the last day of casting.”
According to composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is writing the music for "Moana," Cravalho is also half-Puerto Rican.
"Moana is such an amazing character," Cravalho, told People Magazine. "She’s brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it."
Cravalho will be singing with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who has been cast as the demigod Maui who accompanies Moana on her epic ocean adventure. "I am very excited about that, my gosh," she said.
The film is expected to open in theaters November 23, 2016.