I've been toying with the idea of interviews for the blog, focusing on people that are movers and shakers - ultimately, they are Magic Makers in my book, inspiring to many. I see it fitting to begin my first article with a well-known name and face, a young lady is who is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside: Auli'i Cravalho.
I was invited to participate in the Moana PR Tour for the Blu-Ray & DVD release, and would be interviewing Auli'i Cravalho, the voice actress for the character "Moana." I had never attended a press junket before, and I went in with way too many assumptions. Long story short, I was prepared to maybe ask one question because I honestly assumed there would be a lot of journalists asking much more intriguing questions, and I probably wouldn't get a word in otherwise.
I arrived at the gorgeous Fairmont San Francisco a couple of hours early so I could scope out where I'd be going before Jeff & MeiLani left me (I tend to get lost). They ended up coming with me upstairs since it was only going to be 30 minutes of interview time so they were right outside the room.
I met two other freelancers, and we found out that this truly was a big press day & event, but it was not a big press room or a bunch of crazy journalists, like you'd see on Scandal in the White House Press Room. We were going to have some quality time with Auli'i, just the four of us.
H E L L O.
My excitement levels jumped a few notches because I really had no idea it would be such a close encounter. My inner child was freaking out, and then I literally thought "shit, I should have brought more questions." However, what happened next was an insightful, candid, and sweet conversation that I will never forget...
Thoughts from Auli'i
I will start first on how this sixteen year old has an amazing heart, is down to earth, wise, curious, humble and has a bubbly spirit. I knew the minute she walked in, that we'd have a fun time. She is truly an old, sweet soul sprinkled with the heart of a child, and it was an honor to spend some time with her talking about life, the movie, and her future.
- Auli'i has music flowing in her blood, through her rich Puerto Rican, Portuguese & Hawaiian heritage.
- She's pretty sure her strong vocals come from screaming as a child
- She never had music or voice lessons until she became Moana
- She has no intentions of watching her performance on the Oscars
- She loves history, science & butterflies :)
- She is a Junior in high school & would love to visit colleges in SF
When asked what she appreciates the most about the character, Moana, or what resonates most with her, she mentioned the strength of Moana and being the heroine of her own story. Since Moana has no love interest in the film, it truly is about finding out who she is on her own, above anything else. I appreciate the direction that Disney took with this film, to encourage and empower our youth (kids and adults, too) to look inward first.
As for similarities, Auli'i shared that she had a lot in common with Moana, growing up on the island of Hawai'i, with pigs and chickens - you know, like Pua and Hei Hei! She also paddled as part of her all-Hawaiian school's canoe club, and has a loving family.
Auli'i appreciates the journey that Moana takes to figure out who she is. Moana's strength and resilience, and curiosity to find out who she is will always be inspiring.
On Empowering Others
The next burning question began, "Did you ever in a million years think ..." to which Auli'i quickly interjected "Noooo..." and caused us all to roar with laughter. Her demeanor in that moment reminded us that she has not lost that sixteen year old spark!
Auli'i was only fourteen (14), when she landed the role of Moana. When asked if she ready for that? In a sense of - being ready to be a role model to people everywhere, of all ages? She said to a certain degree, yes. She knew the importance of the film, because of how important Moana was to her. However, she had no idea just how much this would empower people of all ages. She had us chuckling though, as she expressed her disdain for dishes and chores, which isn't surprising because who likes that? Although now I tell my kids, "See, even Auli'i has to do chores." LOL.
On Life, Hopes & Dreams
I asked Auli'i, courtesy of my daughter KaiLeia (14), what the theme song of her life is/would be. She smiled, and pondered for a moment. Then replied, "Moon River." She loves Audrey Hepburn and said that the song is full of hope and talks about dreams and while they might not happen quickly, it is about that journey. If you haven't heard "Moon River," and listened to the lyrics. Heck, if you haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's, you should add it to your "must watch" list.
One of my favorite parts of our conversation focused on hopes and dreams, and the idea of truly knowing who you are. We began chatting about if she ever envisioned her life, how it is today - singing live at the Oscars, preparing for a new show, empowering so many, and she shared that while she is a role model, she is not perfect or complete. Her journey always continues. She will never be complete.
So, how do we get to the point where we "just know" that we are complete? We don't. There are no absolutes and "we are not a complete person ever & we are never to stop growing." What we can do is explore and take a journey for ourselves, which Auli'i says "doesn't have to be across a vast ocean like Moana." It is merely listening to the voice you have inside, to be brave enough to see what else is out there and available to you. Finding who you are might be about leaving everything you know, but "the person you become is worth it."
Auli'i will be starring in an NBC Pilot called Drama High, and will be playing the role of Lilette. She shared that this project is about youth coming together from all walks of life to express themselves through theater.
We can only imagine the amounts of singing, and other talent that will be involved with this theatrical production. According to Deadline, the show, brought to us by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) and Jeffrey Sellers (Hamilton), is based on the true story of high school drama teacher, Lou Volpes – as told via the book Drama High, written by one of Mr. Volpe's former students, Michael Sokolove.
For the rest of her visit in SF, Auli'i had her heart set on a bread bowl full of San Francisco's clam chowder and exploring museums, enjoying the city, and perhaps visiting some college campuses. Compared to Hawai'i and New York, she said SF has just enough hustle & bustle for her, plus the weather is colder so she can wear jackets, scarves, and mittens!
Auli'i shared that her family would be traveling from Hawai'i to visit her this weekend in San Francisco before heading to New York to film for three weeks. I hope she gets a nice relaxing family time and special moments before her travels. She has a great support system, and I hope that as she continues to thrive in the entertainment industry her family bond just keeps getting stronger!
Speaking of family, mine waited outside for me! After our interview, Auli'i made a quick surprise stop in the hall to say "hi" to my eldest, MeiLani - who is also 16, and they took some pictures. While she said adults are fun and all, she was pretty excited to see another teenager! I know that MeiLani will remember that moment for a lifetime.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with Auli'i and share laughter, happy tears and hugs. Our family looks forward to watching her in Drama High and follow this bright star as she continues to spread her magic in the world!
You can follow Auli'i on her adventures via her Instagram – @auliicravalho!
MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD +Digital HD
Make sure to catch more fun outtakes and features exclusive to the MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD, including more interviews with the cast of characters, musicians, writers and directors. We digitally downloaded the film on iTunes early, and our kids (ages 10-16) have watched it already a dozen times!
MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD will be available in stores beginning Tuesday, March 7, 2017! Start planning that movie night!!
Well, Mahalo for reading my experience, I had a blast & hope you enjoyed it, too!
As Maui would say, You're welcome. :)
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