Auliʻi Cravalho is making her acting debut in Disney’s Moana with co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and she appears to be taking the spotlight in stride. So far the reviews for the film, which opens tomorrow, are glowing and all signs point to it being a huge hit. That’s a big win for a film with a female protagonist that doesn’t need a love interest.
Moana is Disney’s first Polynesian princess, and we know she’s set to go on a big adventure in the film. While The Rock is her main companion (and a demigod), the film will also feature two other prominent female characters (Rachel House is voicing Gramma Tala while Nicole Scherzinger is Sina, Moana’s mother), and no romantic interest. That made headlines at the time and Bustle has a nice interview up with the young star in which she addresses it:
“That suddenly became a headline and it kind of surprised me because I thought to myself, ‘If everyone knows that this film is about a journey, why did they assume that she needed someone else to help her find herself? It blew my mind because I have always known and my mom has always taught me that you don’t need anyone else, and you certainly don’t need a love interest to find who you are. So, I’m glad that’s now cleared up.”
I don’t think it’s hard to figure out why most people assumed there’d be some type of romance in the film. Disney princesses have notoriously been attached to their suitors – Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, the list goes on. The last few years of Disney animated films have certainly offered us variations – Zootopia, Lilo & Stitch, Brave – but love stories are classic. That said, it’s great to hear Cravalho reiterate such a great message.
And she didn’t stop there. She also delved into other messages from the film with Bustle, “I hope [what] everyone takes away [from] this film that’s wonderfully written. It really is. It’s inspired by the wonderful Polynesian culture, and it’s taken five years to fully create because they’ve done so much research. I want everyone to understand first that it is perfectly fine to take time to figure out who you are, no matter what anyone says, no matter where you come from, no matter how hard it may seem. It is absolutely necessary.”
As for finding out who she is, Cravalho still has a bit of time to figure that out. “I’m a high school student who grew up on an island, who was given this wonderful, beautiful blessing, but I don’t know where I go from there,” she told them. “I think the main moral story of Moana is that you can take that time, and that it’s so important to figure out who you are, whether or not you go on a physical journey. Or, maybe you just need to stop listening to everyone else and figure it out for yourself.”