Last month, former wrestler and Hollywood darling Dwayne Johnson announced, alongside Disney, that a live-action remake of Moana is in the works. Now, less than two months later, one of the film’s stars, Auli’l Cravalho, has announced she won’t be reprising her role as the film’s titular character.
Cravalho announced her decision on Friday through a video she posted to her Instagram page. In the video, she stated,
"When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and started my career. In this live-action retelling, I will not be reprising the role. I believe it is absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell."
Cravalho’s statement indicates she is passing on the role in favor of an actress of Polynesian descent. While she [Cravalho] has Polynesian ancestry, she is best described as mixed race as she is also of Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Chinese, and Irish descent.
Cravalho went on to reveal she will remain as an executive producer on the remake and, as a result, have a hand in casting the next Moana. She stated, "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 actress, now 22, expressed her honor "to pass this baton to the next woman of Pacific Island descent to honor our incredible Pacific peoples, cultures and communities that help inspire her story, and I look forward to all the beautiful Pacific representation to come. Mahalo."
Cravalho’s decision not to reprise her role as Moana is disappointing. Nevertheless, it is the right one. Even though she is part Native Hawaiian, her mixed ancestry means she has an ambiguous look and is probably not in the best position to represent most Polynesian girls. Hopefully, the actress who Disney chooses to replace Cravalho can fill her very big shoes and replicate her performance.
Given that Moana is her biggest role to date, Cravalho’s decision to pass on the role to someone else reflects her maturity, selflessness, and dedication to doing what is right over what is convenient.
Moana’s live-action remake will see Dwayne Johnson reprise his role as Maui, an exiled demigod who accompanies the titular character on her adventures. Johnson will also produce the film alongside Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia under the banner of their Seven Bucks Productions. Cravalho will be joined by Beau Flynn as the executive producer.
In other news, Disney recently revealed that all first four Indiana Jones films are coming to its streaming platform, Disney Plus, on May 31 one month before the franchise’s fifth installment, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, debuts in theaters. Also, the company’s CEO Bob Iger recently announced they will purge Disney+ of some of its content ahead of the platform's impending merger with Hulu.
At the moment, Moana’s live-action remake is in the works and there is no information on production or release date.