It's only been three months since Disney announced the 2016 release of "Moana," its next animated film, but we're already expecting success of "Frozen" proportions.
As we wait impatiently to hear Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's singing voice (he's been cast as the voice of a demigod), the studio continues to scour the globe to crown the movie's first-ever Pacific Islander princess.
Unlike the last few Disney princesses -- who were played by pop stars, Tony-award winners and A-list actresses -- the studio's New Zealand-based casting agency went searching for an undiscovered talent for Moana. They held an open casting call on YouTube and described Moana as "smart, passionate, and funny. Brave, inquisitive, and confident. A teenager who yearns for something more. Strong singing voice a must.”
Hawaii-born teens Ciana Pelekai and Makamae Auwae both received official callbacks after submitting their YouTube auditions and have become instant Internet celebrities. Both girls are definitely eager to represent their culture and, as evidenced by audition videos, wildly talented:
"I relate to Moana because she's Polynesian and I'm Hawaiian and I know I could be an inspiration to others," Pelekai, 14, told The Huffington Post. "Down here in Hawaii, there's not a lot of opportunity to be recognized [nationally] like there is in Los Angeles. I just hope they choose a Hawaii girl."
(You may recognize Pelekai from Season 8 of "America's Got Talent.")
"I would be honored to lead the role of Moana because it would be a big opportunity to represent where I come from," Auwae, 19, told HuffPost. "The Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures could teach the world the value of family and how respectful Polynesians are of the world around them, from navigating stars to taking care of the land that take cares of them."