Disney has unveiled the voice of its newest Disney princess, "Moana," as 14-year-old Auli'i Cravalho. Cravalho, who is a Native Hawaiian, will star alongside Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the upcoming film.
Many years in the making, "Moana" is the story of 14-year-old Moana Waialiki who is in search of a fabled island once sought by her parents. Set roughly 2,000 years ago in Oceania, Disney's first Polynesian princess is joined in her quest by Maui, a Hawaiian demigod voiced by The Rock.
Disney says it auditioned hundreds of people throughout the Pacific Islands to find the perfect match for "Moana." An open casting call for the part called for someone who was "brave, inquisitive, and confident" with strong singing skills.
"When I first heard that there was going to be an audition to potentially play the role of 'Moana,' I thought 'No way, that could be me,'" Cravalho, who is from Oahu, told People in a behind-the-scenes video. The teenager originally didn't think she would be good enough for the role, but was brought into audition by an Oahu casting agent.
"Auli'i was the very last girl that I saw on my last day of casting ," said Rachel Sutton, a casting director. After a few more auditions (and a big surprise reveal) Cravalho had the role.
Her mother, Puanani Cravalho, described the part as a "blessing." She was at work when her daughter surprised her with a call that she was Disney's newest princess.
Fellow cast member The Rock welcomed Cravalho to the Disney movie, Instagramming a picture of her after the worldwide auditions were complete.
He described the story of how Cravalho was cast and said it was "an awesome lesson to all young kids out there... work hard, have confidence in yourselves and never think that you're not good enough because you never know what the future holds."
"Moana" is expected to hit theaters November 23, 2016.
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