‘Moana’ Star Speaks Out, Reveals Why They’re Not Returning

moana with maui the demigod and hei hei the rooster in disney's moana (2017)
"Moana" (2017)/Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Moana (2016) is a beloved animated Disney film that has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the movie tells the story of a spirited Polynesian girl named Moana Waialiki who embarks on a daring journey to save her people and discover her true destiny.

maui, moana, hei-hei, and pua

Credit: Disney

Moana’s love for her people and the water allowed fans to fall in love with the music and her journey. The film’s soundtrack, featuring songs like “How Far I’ll Go” and “You’re Welcome,” composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda became popular singalong songs. Given the success and popularity of Moana, it’s not surprising that fans have expressed hopes and excitement about the possibility of a live-action adaptation. Dwayne Johnson and Disney announced that a live-action Moana is in the works.

Sadly for the Disney princess live-action, not all the original cast will return to the Moana film. Auli’i Cravalho, known for her role as Moana’s voice in Disney’s 2016 animated film, has decided not to portray the character in the upcoming live-action remake.

disneyland california resident discount summer ticket moana water projection world of color one

Credit: Disney

Auli’i Cravalho spoke to The Wrap about her decision on why she will not be returning to the beloved role.

“It feels really important to me to pass the baton to the next young woman of Pacific Island descent, and I say that with my whole chest. I have been invited, and I exist in these beautiful AAPI spaces, Asian American Pacific Islander, and I am one of the few Pacific Islanders. And I’ll say it again, I am one of the few Pacific Islanders. And our stories are so important to be told.

We are used. And I want to tell our own stories. I want to be behind the camera as much as I am in front of it. When I talk about representation, I want to see the same thing happening in writers rooms. I want to see the same thing happening with directors. And Taika Waititi talks about this as well, I wanna see showrunners who are also of indigenous descent telling their own stories.

And if it has to start with me — I’m 23, but if it starts with me, so be it. I want that door to swing wide open, and I cannot wait to meet the next Moana.”

The live-action Moana is in the early stages of development. However, Dwayne Johnson, who voiced Maui in the original film, has confirmed his return to reprise his role. While the rest of the cast is still being assembled, Alan Tudyk and Jermaine Clement are expected to return to provide the voices of Heihei and the gigantic crab Tamatoa.

maui from disney's moana

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

Fans will miss Auli’i Cravalho as Moana, but her decision to step away to provide opportunities for a new South Pacific star to shine is a thoughtful and kind decision.

About Brittni Ward

Brittni is a Disney and Universal fan; one of her favorite things at both parks is collecting popcorn buckets. While at Disney World Resort, Brittni meets the princesses and rides Kilimanjaro Safaris. At Universal, Brittni enjoys the Minions and watching Animal Actors on Location! When not at Disney World Resort or Universal Orlando, Brittni spends time with her family and pets.

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