Moana fans are applauding Auli’i Cravalho, the young actor who voiced the titular character of the 2016 animated movie, for her “respectful” decision to sit out of the film’s forthcoming live-action remake.
A month after Dwayne Johnson announced that a live-action retelling of the popular Disney movie was “in the works”, Cravalho confirmed she would not be reprising her lead role.
“When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and started my career. In this live-action retelling, I will not be reprising the role,” she shared in an Instagram video posted on Friday (19 May).
“I believe it is absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell.”
Cravalho will, however, still have a hand in the remake serving as an executive producer.
“I cannot wait to help find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit and emotional strength,” she added.
“I’m truly honoured to pass this baton to the next young woman of Pacific Island descent to honour our incredible Pacific peoples, cultures and communities that help inspire her story, and I look forward to the beautiful Pacific representation to come.”
Moana told the story of an adventurous teen who sets sail on a dangerous mission to save her people. Along her journey, she meets Maui (voiced by Johnson), a powerful demigod who guides her on her quest.
While the 22-year-old actor is Native Hawaiian, she is also of Chinese, Irish, Portuguese and Puerto Rican descent and is more light-skinned than the movie’s depiction of Moana, who appears to be darker-skinned and of solely Polynesian heritage.
Several fans responded to Cravalho’s post with initial disappointment that they wouldn’t get to hear her sing again, yet they praised her for the “understandable” resolution.
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“Much respect to you Auli’i,” one commented. “With the issue of colourism in the Lilo and Stitch remake, while it would be interesting to see the same actress portray the character in a live-action remake. I appreciate that you want this version of the role to go to someone who could reflect Moana authentically.”
“Love her for this,” someone else wrote on Twitter, with a third simply replying with three applause emojis.
“Oh she’s so real for that I love her,” someone added. Another labelled her a “genius” for her choice.
“See? This is what more light skin actresses and actors should be doing. Let’s not continue colourism bc you just want the opportunity,” one replied.
A few weeks ago, the live-action version of Lilo and Stitch, Disney’s hit franchise about a young Hawaiian girl Lilo and her alien pet Stitch, drew criticism from audiences accusing its casting of “colourism”, for hiring lighter-skinned actors to play some of the original darker-skinned animated characters.