Auli’i Cravalho explains why she won’t reprise ‘Moana’ role in upcoming live-action film

Disney’s “Moana” is getting the live-action treatment, and Auli’i Cravalho, who voiced the animated film’s title character, says it’s important to her not to reprise the role.

Dwayne Johnson, who played the demigod Maui in the 2016 animated film, announced last year that a live-action reimagining of “Moana” was underway and said fans would get to see him portray Maui in the flesh. And while Cravalho signed on to executive produce the film, she followed Johnson’s announcement with the news that she was opting to stay behind the camera on the project.

“When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and started my career,” she said in an Instagram video last May. “In this live action retelling, I will not be reprising the role. I believe it is absolutely vital that the casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell, so as an executive producer on the film, I cannot wait to help find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit and emotional strength.”

The 23-year-old, who stars as as Janis ‘Imi’ike in the musical remake of “Mean Girls” hitting theaters Friday, told the Wrap that while the “Moana” universe is expanding with a forthcoming Disney+ animated series (coming this year) as well as the live-action remake (2025), she had turned down playing the character again as a deliberate move to pave the way for more Pacific Islander representation in Hollywood.

“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 …,” Cravalho told the outlet. “I am one of the few Pacific Islanders. And our stories are so important to be told.”

The actor continued that the Pacific Islands, specifically Hawaii, are so often used to tell other stories, à la “White Lotus,” and it’s important to her that Pacific Islanders get to tell their own stories.

“I want to be behind the camera as much as I am in front of it,” she said. “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.”

Cravalho added that if it has to start with her, then so be it. “I want that door to swing wide open and I cannot wait to meet the next Moana.”

Disney’s live-action “Moana” is scheduled to hit theaters June 27, 2025.

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