Moana keeps it moving!
Auli'i Cravalho, voice of Disney's newest Disney Princess, has a sunny future ahead of her. At only 16 years old, the Hawaii native has won hearts across the world as tenacious explorer Moana, one of many Disney heroes but, as Cravalho points out, the very first Disney heroine.
Cravalho, whose spirit is shockingly reminiscent of her animated counterpart, also performed at the 2017 Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, when she proved that she can maintain grace under intense pressure (that pressure being a swift sucker punch to the dome).
While singing Moana's "How Far I'll Go," the teen was struck in the back of the head by one of the backup dancers' flags. Surprisingly, as it turns out, it wasn't the first time she'd been whacked by the props.
"I'm a good actress, because I was so nervous," Cravalho told Zimbio in a recent interview. "I was digesting my butterflies, taking calming yoga breaths. It had also happened the day before in dress rehearsals. When we got back stage, I said, 'Hey, not to be a worry wart, but I got a little tap.' I had to be checked out by EMTs."
While the performers agreed to ensure the accident didn't repeat itself during the Oscars night performance, the singer was smacked in the back of the head by an errant flag on live TV. Still, she refused to skip a beat.
"I was rubbing my lump on the back of my head for the next few days," Cravalho laughed.
Such self-assurance requires a powerful support system, which she has in her tight-knit Oahu community.
"[Moana] felt right," she said of making a film inspired by her own culture. "My family and friends realized that. My cousins started dressing up as Moana. They've been so great."
But perhaps the most supportive was the actress' mom, Puanani.
"All of the scenes with Gramma Tala, I imagined my mom," she recalled. "Out of everyone [at home], she would be the one to push me to do what I wanted to do."
As a matter of fact, Cravalho's own mother had a small role in the film.
"My mom plays Villager #2," the young actress said excitedly, recalling her mother's role as the woman who discovers the island's coconuts have decayed. "We practiced so many times, but she nailed it."
As for other cast members' support, Cravalho said Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who voiced demi-god Maui, was a stand-out.
"He's amazing," she gushed. "So kind. Larger than life in person as well as in the film. He gave me flowers when I first met him. He's a big teddy bear deep, deep down."
As exciting as the experience was for Cravalho, seeing the film for the first time was also an overwhelmingly emotional experience.
"I bawled my eyes out the first time," she admitted. "Hearing my own voice and hearing the background noises — the surf and the wind, all these important elements were there. I didn't know an animation would mean so much to me, but it does."
While she said her future definitely includes college, in late February, news broke that Cravalho been cast in the lead role in upcoming NBC series Drama High. While she was unable to comment on it at the time of our discussion, EW reports the Glee-reminiscent series will be spearheaded by Friday Night Lights producer Jason Katims.
Her parting message to others whose dreams sometimes feel out of reach?
"I wasn't going to audition for Moana because I didn't think that I was good enough for it," she said. "I had tried out for different school plays, I was the understudy of the understudy most times, and I tried my hardest but at the same time I didn't want to because I knew that if I tried, it would break me. But I took a leap of faith and my life has thus changed."
"There is nothing more important than hope," she continued. "There is nothing more important than using that hope to propel yourself and to make yourself better. You might get shot down, as I have many times...just be willing to get shot down again and again for that one moment that it works out."
Moana will be available to purchase on Blu-Ray March 7, 2017.