Mililani teen scores lead role in Disney's 'Moana'

Mililani teen scores lead role in Disney's 'Moana'
Published: Oct. 7, 2015 at 2:08 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 8, 2015 at 1:04 AM HST
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Aulii Cravalho has scored the lead role in Disney's newest animated feature. Image Source:...
Aulii Cravalho has scored the lead role in Disney's newest animated feature. Image Source: Disney Animated Studios

MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Aulii Cravalho always imagined herself starring in a Disney movie.

Now, she's living that dream.

The Mililani 14-year-old has scored the role of Moana in the new Disney animated feature by the same name.

The teen says she auditioned on a whim, not thinking she was good enough to get the role. "I was getting through my freshman year, and there were already so many great submissions over YouTube," Cravalho told People magazine.

A local casting agent discovered Cravalho, and Disney flew her out to Los Angeles for an in-studio audition, which she nailed. She'll perform alongside Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in "Moana," the story of a young girl from 2,000 years ago who sets sail to fulfill her ancestors' quest.

Her teachers at Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama are thrilled, but not surprised.

"That was really exciting," said Zach Lum, one of Cravalho's teachers in the performing arts department at Kamehameha, where Cravalho is a sophomore. "From that instant, whenever the first announcement happened, her life is changed forever, you know."

Lum found out from Cravalho's classmates. "I woke up and there were texts on my phone from some of my students with a screen shot of The Rock's Instagram saying that Aulii is Moana."

Cravalho is in her first year as a soprano in the acclaimed Kamehameha Concert Glee Club. Another teacher, Kalua Tataipu, said Disney made the right choice in picking Cravalho.

"She speaks very clearly. She's articulate. Her thought process is complete," said Tataipu. "And it's reflected when she sings also. She sings the same way."

"From baby time to now, I wanted to be a Disney princess," Cravalho told People. "Moana is such an amazing character. She's brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she's not afraid to get it."

"I think for Aulii, it's just like another adventure, and it she seems to be one that's always looking for something new and another way to grow and other things to learn," said Tataipu.

"We're so proud of her," said Lum. "And we're happy to support her in that way. We're happy to have a Hawaiian there."

Cravalho has already started recording for the role. "Moana" is set to hit movie theaters Nov. 23, 2016.

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