Disney Won't Bring Back Controversial Actor For Next Big Movie

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Auliʻi Cravalho won’t play Moana again in the live-action film, as the actress wants the role to go to a true Pacific Islander.

By Robert Scucci | Published

Proper representation in filmmaking is more crucial now in 2023 than it has ever been before. So much in fact that Auliʻi Cravalho has decided not to reprise her role as Moana in the upcoming live-action Disney film, but rather pass the baton onto someone new who is of Pacific Island descent. As executive producer, Cravalho is hard at work finding a suitable replacement for the titular role that she voice-acted in the past.

It’s safe to say that Auliʻi Cravalho’s decision to recast Moana was not an easy one to make, but she feels like it’s the right decision. The 22-year-old Crush star even expressed gratitude for how Disney was responsible for jump-starting her career when she was just 14 years old. In a heartfelt video statement that can be found on her Instagram page, Cravalho enthusiastically stated that she “cannot wait to help find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit, and emotional strength.”

Though Cravalho is a native Hawaiian herself, she is of mixed heritage (Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish). In her statement, she voiced her opinion that it’s absolutely vital for Disney to cast the role of Moana in a way that accurately represents the characters and stories that they want to tell in the live-action film. In an effort to honor the characters, Cravalho finds it necessary to cast an up-and-coming star who is of Pacific Island descent.

But it’s worth noting that lineage isn’t the only form of representation that could be a potential cause of concern. Moana is depicted as a 16-year-old, so it makes sense that 22-year-old Cravalho won’t fit the age requirement for the upcoming Disney film. We’ve come a long way from the days of 90210 in which a 24-year-old Luke Perry portrayed an angsty high school student, and we now know that accurately casting a role only lends itself to better filmmaking.

Cravalho stepping down from portraying Moana will allow Disney to cast a newcomer that will bring their own unique interpretation to the character that we love so much. And though we’re disappointed to lose such a great acting talent for such an iconic role, it should be celebrated that Cravalho cares so much about properly representing the character and film that made her a star in the first place. Considering that Cravalho is still functioning as Moana’s executive producer shows us that she still cares deeply about the project, and will be sure to pick the right person to star in the film.

Cast changes are never an easy thing to trust upon a loyal audience, but Cravalho’s decision has seen positive reception so far. Overall, fans are thrilled that they will get to see a young actress of Pacific Island descent star in the new Moana film, and this decision should be considered a milestone in proper film representation of the indigenous people who inspired Disney’s Moana in the first place.

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Dwayne Johnson as Maui in Moana (left)

Dwayne Johnson announced the live-action remake of Moana on April 3 during a Disney shareholders meeting, and we’re more than thrilled to see further developments in the coming weeks and months. Johnson, who voiced the boisterous island prankster Maui in the original animated film will be reprising his role in the live-action version. As for who will be portraying Moana, we’ll have to wait patiently as Cravalho searches for the perfect actress to take the lead role that she has just vacated herself.


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