My Exclusive Interview with Disney Moana’s Auli’I Cravalho and her mother, Puanani #MOANA
*I received an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles for the coverage of several press events for Disney. All opinions are 100% my own and I only recommend events and shows that, I believe, are a great fit for my readers.
I am so stinkin’ excited to finally share my exclusive interview with Disney Moana’s Auli’I Cravalho and her mother, Puanani! I have never been as excited about sharing something with y’all as I am about this. This mother and daughter made me rethink everything about being a mother…..and a daughter. I’m going to have to get some video of one of these interviews on my next trip to LA, just so y’all can see how adorable Auli’I and her mom are together. When they walked in the room, it immediately lit up! I don’t think anyone was expecting the amazing feeling and sunshine these two were bringing with them. There were hugs all around, and then we got to sit down and talk to them, about serious stuff, like Disney! The hugs y’all, the hugs!
The first question came about the red carpet of Pete’s Dragon where we all had our first chance to see Auli’I and her mom (they were adorable). The question was “Was this your first red carpet?”
The next question; How do you think it’s going to be in November?
Auli’I: That was my first red carpet. I’ve heard it’s going to be with music and dancers. So it was really interesting to see how it all worked and how people know my name and they were saying it correctly too, ‘Auli’i’. They had a hard time, but they were all saying it in synch to get me to turn to them. It was good.
Question: So we saw a little bit of footage where it showed when they told you about the part and how you called your mom. And so who was the next person that you wanted to tell?
Auli’i: Well, that was happening during summer school, so I had taken a break like a two hour break from something I was going to like a dentist appointment or something and I went back to school and I remember I had a strawberry smoothie before that and so they went, didn’t you go to a dentist appointment, and I was like did I say dentist I meant doctor. So I wanted to tell all my friends, but I didn’t tell anyone.
Puanani: No you couldn’t. We were sworn to secrecy. We were sworn July August, September, October yeah like a little over three months. So she’d come home at night and- and we’d be, you know, hugging and she’s like ‘Mommy, I’m Moana.’ I’m like ‘yeah you sure are, sweetie’ you know, there’s no one else to tell. Oh I’m going to cry. But it’s so true.
Auli’i: And then the D23 came out and Dwayne was there with his camera and I wanted to shout.
Puanani: Right, right.
The next question was about working as a voice actor: Did you do any, was all your animation work alone in a booth? Did you actually see anyone else ever?
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. 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. 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. Temuera Morrison, who has an amazing accent, it was interesting to meet him because he’s an actual father. I got to meet his daughter as well and it was really nice to see just him as a dad. I got to envision him more so as a dad.
Then the question of all questions: Tell us about meeting The Rock.
Puanani: I did some Rock climbing for all of us. (Rock climbing y’all! We all lost it! HAHA!!) I’m just saying you know, I took one for the team; sweat and everything.
Auli’i: What else would you like to know? (I thought she would crawl under the table LOL)
Puanani: No it’s all right, he’s all right.
Auli’i: So, he was very nice and very professional. It was interesting because, I mean, 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 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.
Question: How do you feel about family and having your culture embodied into a Disney princess/character?
Auli’i: Moana is definitely a Disney character, which is something that I totally love, because she’s totally bad butt. She’s really awesome. She really, I think, embodies it because I, as someone who has grown up, been born and raised on the island of Hawaii love my culture. I go to an all Hawaiian school where you have to be Hawaiian to be admitted. I speak 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. 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. The fact that it’s being shone 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.
Question: On that note, what would you say has been your biggest lesson learned about yourself while filming this film?
Auli’i: Family, definitely, because when I first got the role, there was no one that I could tell. 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 was fine. 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. Because I kind of just like having just us, you know. I love my family and the fact that Moana kind of shares that, because she loves her people. I think a lot of people say when you go to Hawaii, you’ll notice the ambiance and you’ll notice everyone is friendly because we all kind of think for each other. 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, you know. If, if you succeed, good for you. But for everyone that I’ve ever met, um, in Hawaii- It’s like you made it and you made it for us. And I just feel so proud of that.
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