MP! Exclusive: IRL Moana Auli’i Cravalho talks ‘Drama High’ and the Oscars 2017

We all need to be a little more like Auli’i

At just 16 years old, Auli’i Cravalho is a true force of nature. The Hawaiian island girl was selected to voice the main character of Disney’s hit film ‘Moana’ which turned her life completely upside down, propelling her into the Hollywood elite.

But don’t get us wrong, Auli’i remains one of the most down to earth and relatable film stars we have ever had the pleasure to talk to. We can 100% say she is one of the nicest, most genuine, bubbly girls we have ever met – one of those people who give you so much energy just from being around them. We felt so pumped from talking to her that we literally went for a 10 mile run straight after, so thanks for that motivation, Auli’! 😂

Aloha, Auli’i!

Aloha, nice to meet you.

What is the funniest thing you’ve seen today?

I was on Instagram scrolling, not doing what I was supposed to do, which was to finish my homework, but hey it was like a 5 minute break. I saw this dog meme where the owner tries to put on an adorable jacket, but the dog was a little bit too big for this jacket so instead he couldn’t move and it was the cutest thing!

My favourite pastime is to look up videos of chubby animals. It makes me feel so good inside.

OMG us too! We couldn’t find the exact video Auli’i was talking about so here are some cute celebrity dogs from the likes of Lauren Jauregui, Selena Gomez and Perrie Edwards.

Obviously, we have to ask about the Oscars. How was performing ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from ‘Moana’ on such a massive global platform?

It still feels like a dream. I know it actually happened because I’ve been getting texts and heart emojis from my friends and family, which I really appreciate. But at the same time I feel like maybe it didn’t happen and that hopefully I can do it tomorrow – I’m hoping that it’s still coming up because it just happened so quickly. I had butterflies in my stomach for weeks leading up to the event but it happened so quickly that I almost wish that I could do it again.

Watch Auli’i’s Oscar performance right here:

We’re sure you will. You also had three wardrobe changes at the Oscars – IN ONE NIGHT!

I have a really interesting story about my outfit actually. We were originally planning on only having one outfit. I mean, it was my first Oscars – I didn’t want to go overboard, especially as I was performing! So the first one we chose was the white dress I wore on the red carpet.

And then the red dress for my performance was fitted only two days before. It was very last minute but it turned out beautifully. We were wondering whether the white would show up on camera. The producers were thinking maybe I should wear a colour and I remember looking at my stylist and saying:

“So do you want to tie-dye the white dress or shall we look for another dress?”

We looked for another dress…

Speechless. ❤

A post shared by Auli'i (@auliicravalho) on

And then the blue dress was one which I just really loved. It had what I thought was an old Hollywood look to it and it was slightly more comfortable. The shoes were not comfortable at all haha.

So you have a lot of input in what you wear? 

It’s actually really important, especially for that stage performance. If you think about it, I needed to be able to move. I needed to make sure that my dancers wouldn’t step on it. It had to have just enough space in the waist so that I could take a deep breath, but it also had to look good on camera and show up well as far as lighting was concerned. So there was a lot of thought and input, not only mine, but also everyone else’s. I’m really glad I got to have so much input though because it turned out really well.

It looked so effortless. 

Thank you, I’ll take that haha.

Who is your style inspiration in general? 

Well, I always think of Audrey Hepburn whenever I think of style. I think style is not only clothes, but also the effort that you put into it. My favourite quote is:

“It takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless”

I always think of that when it comes to clothing. You could, of course, put on whatever you like and it’s really about how comfortable you feel. But there’s a certain elegance and a timeless look that I try to go for. It’s so rewarding when you know that you look good and you feel good. If I’m taking a picture or selfie, I want to know that my clothes won’t go out of style the next week.

Did you meet any of your idols at the Oscars?

YES! At the Oscars itself I got to see John Legend backstage, Lin-Manuel who I performed with and I went to the Vanity Fair party which was so cool. They were serving In&Out, just in case anybody didn’t know that haha. They serve really good food if you love In&Out like I do. So next time you’ll want to get into the Vanity Fair party haha. At that party I met Katy Perry and Demi Lovato. It was so amazing, Kate Upton was also there, and so many amazing Hollywood stars with beautiful skin and kind personalities and some of them even congratulated me! I was blown away by the kindness and just by how beautiful they are up close.

AMAZING! Did anyone share any advice? 

Sara Bareilles said really good job and to continue singing. My heart was beating in and out of my chest and almost leapt out of my throat. It was honestly the sweetest thing she could have said to me.

That’s so sweet. What did you think about the Best Picture blunder?

That was… interesting. It’s certainly the moment that I will remember from my first Oscars. I mean, yes I performed, but also there was a bit of a mix up at the end haha. I thought that the cast of ‘La La Land’ was incredibly gracious. Both films were so important. They were both so beautifully directed, the actresses and actors executed their roles so well. And the fact that one film could literally pass on an Oscar to another and in doing so recognise the importance of each other’s work was beautiful to watch.

12 Oscar worthy reaction memes which perfectly sum up the Best Picture disaster

And you also have massive news because you’re going to be starring in the pilot for ‘Drama High’, an adaptation of the YA novel series. It sounds a bit like ‘Glee’ tbh. 

Oh my gosh I’m so excited. It’s a bit of a mixture of ‘Glee’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’. It’s about these teenagers who are living completely normal teenage lives, which I completely get because I am sixteen haha! It’s about the different walks of life that people come from and also about high school and the dramas that are usually associated with that. The story centres around the school’s arts programme. My character isn’t the most well off, but there’s something about theatre which brings us all together and allows us to tell the story of other individuals, but also of ourselves in a crazy, beautiful way. I’m so excited for everyone to see it.

Is it going to be all original songs?

I’m not sure actually. I know that there’ll be some from hit musicals and others that our characters need to get out from their own personal place so there might be some that are original too.

When is filming starting?

We’re gonna start filming really soon. We’ll be shooting the pilot in a few weeks actually.

And of course we HAVE TO speak about ‘Moana’. Which characteristics do you think make you the most like the main character?

I’m still blown away about how I was cast for ‘Moana’. It was just something I wasn’t expecting and I couldn’t have planned for. I was 14 when I auditioned and my life has truly changed by the journey I have been on. I am currently in Los Angeles, California and I’m just an island girl who grew up on the big island of Hawaii, riding horses and wearing boots every day. I grew up with chickens! I couldn’t have dreamed as big as this no matter how hard I tried.

I connect very deeply to the character, as I said I grew up on an island. I’m sixteen which is the same age as the character. I literally grew up right next to the ocean. I love my family and I am very deeply rooted to my culture. I’m just so grateful.

You are like a real life Cinderella. How does it feel to be officially a Disney princess?

I’m incredibly, incredibly blessed. I pinch myself every now and again and I ask my mum whether this is really happening because it’s INSANE. I’m so grateful for every second that I get to do this and every person that I get to meet. And you – I’m so grateful that I get to talk to someone hundreds and hundreds of miles away! That truly blows my mind.

Stop it. We’re blushing. You are the sweetest thing. What is your opinion on whether Disney is feminist because in the past it has been accused of portraying women in a 2D role?

I think Disney films are reflective of their time and in this day and age. We have such strong powerful women now so it’s important that our characters be portrayed as heroines and as independent people in general. I love Moana for the fact that she is beautiful inside and out. She is a heroine and she’s basically everything I want to grow up to be, whether or not that means she is a feminist or whatever title you want to use, she is just wonderful. And I think the whole world is waking up to realise that.

OMG! We learned the Hawaiian word for “strong” is ‘ikaika’ from your Hawaiian Pronunciation tutorial!

WOW! WELL DONE! I am very impressed.

Thaaaaanks! And lastly do you think there could be an LGBTQ+ Disney prince/princess coming soon? 

Ooh that’s such a good question. I think the LGBTQ+ community is one that is so beautiful and so strong and I would love to see more characters like that being represented. I don’t know what’s on the horizon for Disney, but I think the LGBTQ+ community should definitely be represented in every show.

Fantastic! Thanks Auli’i. You are a true inspiration. 

‘Moana’ arrives in homes on Digital Download on 27th March and on DVD, Blu-ray™ and 3D Blu-ray™ on 3rd April.

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Written by David Farrell

David is the Head of Content at Maximum Pop!

Having studied Russian and Spanish at the University of Leeds, David moved to Moscow to work in the education sector. Upon returning to UK soil, David initially immersed himself in the wonderful world of MP! as a music writer.

Now head of all things content, David takes being a music fanboy to a whole new level, and can often be found dancing like there's nobody watching to 'Shout Out To My Ex', obsessing over Lauren Jauregui and defending Taylor Swift's honour.

David once appeared on TV in Armenia. Apparently, "it was awesome".

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