Auli’i Cravalho’s journey towards becoming a famous actress is inspiring, to say the least. Some would call it a Cinderella story. Carvalho was raised in a single-parent household in a tiny town in Hawaii. By luck, she was discovered at the young age of 14. She was launched into A-Lister status with her role-playing Moana in 2016, and since then, the opportunities have kept coming her way with no sign of slowing.
It wasn’t easy for Carvalho to balance fame and high school homework as a teenager. Still, she managed to succeed in school and her acting projects, keeping the starlet grounded amid all the glamour. Now a young woman, the “Moana” actress wants to use her career and platform to empower women while advocating for disadvantaged people and important social issues.
Unlike many actresses her age who are nepo babies, Carvalho grew up humbly and without a shred of fame. She takes on only specific acting roles and gives back to her community. She’s also not just focused on taking the spotlight on-screen, instead showing a major interest in behind/the-scenes roles.
While she still has many acting years ahead of her, we see Au’Li Carvalho as a force of nature in Hollywood and can’t wait to see what she tackles next.
This small-town girl didn’t think she could make it big
Auli’i grew up with a single mom in a little-known Hawaiian town with a passion for music and theater, but she never dreamed that she would make it big.
She always considered herself “a flamboyant and vocal person,” as she confided to Variety, but figured that the chances of being discovered were slim due to living on a small island.
Plus, she didn’t have much stage experience, which led her to think that no casting agent would pay attention to her. The actress instead believed that she would live a fulfilling life in Hawaii as much of her family had. Although she was proud of her family’s Hawaiian legacy and believed she would stay there, things would change drastically sooner than she thought.
A casting director approached her, changing everything
When Auli’i Cravalho was just a young teen in high school, she created an audition tape with her friends for a local nonprofit event. She didn’t land the gig, but a Disney casting director saw the reel and reached out to Cravalho by email. The teen and her mother initially thought it was a scam but still went to the studio on the off-chance that it was a legit opportunity. After realizing it wasn’t a scam and going through three rounds of auditions, the starlet was finally offered the iconic role of Moana.
She’s a trailblazer as the youngest actress to voice a Disney princess and Disney’s first Polynesian princess
Cravalho made history after becoming the youngest person to play a princess on Disney at 14. She’s also the first to represent Polynesian identity, and you can thank her for ensuring that Polynesian culture was shown accurately in the film and that no misrepresentation occurred.
Thanks to the help of this actress and Disney’s hard work, “Moana” was rooted in fact, authenticity, and respect. A real Polynesian dancer choreographed dancing scenes, and the studio collaborated with Ocean History Trust, a group of Hawaiian elders, to consult on things like sea navigation and fishing.
Auli’i Cravalho juggled high school and “Moana” voice recording sessions at the same time
We love a multitasking and hardworking queen! While recording her voice-overs, Auli’i kept attending high school, where she was a sophomore. She would fly out up to a couple of times a month (generally on weekends) and had to finish all of her assignments even when she was jetting off to LA.
Figuring out how to balance work and, well, more work was essential, and while she did have to negotiate some deadlines, she still managed to make a history-making performance.
She went from child to adult while filming
Going through puberty and becoming a young woman is no easy feat. It gets even harder when you add dealing with the nuances of fame to the mix. Cravalho talked about being in an “in between feeling like you’re kind of an adult” and having a career that “puts you on a pedestal.” It can be hard to figure all that out when you’re still at the age of getting in trouble with your mom and needing to do homework.
She tackled her first live-action role and identified with the character
After Moana, when was cast in the 2018 TV show “Rise,” Cravalho masterfully transitioned from voice-acting to using her body language and facial expressions in conjunction with dialogue.
And just like she related to her Hawaiian character in “Moana,” Auli’i found that she had more than a few things in common with her “Rise” character Lilette. Lilette also grew up in a small town and was raised by a single mom. The actress said that Lilette’s relationship with her mom reminded Auli’i of her own experiences with her mother.
She showcased her bisexuality in queer rom-com “Crush”
When Cravalho played AJ in “Crush,” she had already come out as bisexual, doing so on TikTok in April 2020. She loved that “Crush” wasn’t focused entirely on a coming-out story but naturally integrated teen queer storylines. This is partially due to the fact that a fully LGBTQ creative team led the film.
The actress said the script “makes or breaks the movie,” as does having a queer cast, which the film’s makers pride themselves on.
She’s still adjusting to her new financial security
After rising to fame so quickly and making a ton of money, Cravalho still isn’t used to having money, especially since she grew up in Hawaii on EBT with a single mom struggling to support her. Unlike her nepo baby colleagues in Hollywood, she didn’t have a famous or privileged family to fall back on.
Instead of relishing in her new wealth, she worries if she’s spending enough on helping out her community and making an impact. Although she wants to use her money to make a difference and better the world, she told The Cut, “I have never encountered this kind of financial security before — and I would be stupid to give it up.”
She deferred her Columbia University acceptance for fear of losing momentum in Hollywood
Auli’i Cravalho got accepted to Columbia University, where she applied to study environmental science, but she deferred several times because she didn’t think it was the right decision.
Cravalho was concerned that if she took a break from Hollywood, the industry would forget about her, and she would become irrelevant.
She’s going to be in a Mean Girls musical movie and be executive producer for the live-action Moana
Cravalho keeps levelling up in her career, and it’s quite impressive. First, she’s going to be in a musical film adaptation of “Mean Girls.” She’ll take on the role of the beloved Janis, originally played by actress Lizzy Caplan in the 2004 original.
Although many fans thought she would reprise her role as Moana in the live-action version, Cravalho will be executive-producing the flick instead. She’s excited to find the next young woman with a Pacific Island background to honor the role and bring new life to it.