The voice of Disney’s Moana, Auli’i Cravalho, gave a stunning performance of “How Far I’ll Go” at the Oscars — in spite of getting hit in the head by a dancer’s flag midway through her song — and Sunday’s big spotlight is already paying off. Following the performance, Cravalho has been cast in a lead role on the NBC pilot Drama High, inspired by high school theater teacher Lou Volpe.
Since you’ll be seeing a lot more of the Hawaiian 16-year-old singer/actress in the coming months, here are six things to know about the fresh face:
She is the youngest actress ever to voice a Disney princess.
When she started recording for the blockbuster at age 14, Cravalho was two years younger than Moana herself.
She was the last girl to audition for the role.
In a Disney video introducing Cravalho, casting director Rachel Sutton said, “Auli’i was the very last girl that I saw on my last day of casting.” According to Hello! magazine, a casting agent discovered a YouTube video of Cravalho singing in a charity competition and introduced her to the film’s directors Ron Clements and John Musker soon after. She beat out hundreds of other young women for the role.
She sang for her high school’s glee club in Hawaii.
She performed in high school but thanks her mom for helping to develop her singing voice since childhood. “I credit my singing to my mom because she didn’t give me a binky when I was a baby. I cried and screamed for the first six months — my mom would say four years of my life — and I developed wonderful lungs,” she told People.
She didn’t meet Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson until after the film’s production was finished.
“I met him two months ago at a content shoot. I thought I’d be recording with him in the booth, like, ‘What’s up, Maui? Heeey.’ But no,” Cravalho told ABC News. “I cut him some slack, since he’s the busiest man in Hollywood. But he’s wonderful. We met at the content shoot, and he’s really kind, not that I was expecting him to be mean. But he’s had so much success, yet he still has that down-to-earth, that aloha spirit that I think I can see in him.”
She is the first Polynesian Disney princess.
However, Cravalho emphasizes that in the movie, Moana is a heroine and the daughter of a chief, but not actual royalty.
She sang with a 4-year-old on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Cravalho appeared on the show Monday to surprise and sing her hit “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana with 4-year-old Claire Ryann, who gained attention for a video of her and her dad singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” Adorable. Watch the video of their duet below: