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Moana's voice actress Auli'i Carvalho won't reprise role in live-action film

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published May 20, 2023 12:17 pm

It looks Disney will have to find another actress to portray Moana as her original voice actress, Auli'i Carvalho, won't be reprising her role in the upcoming live-action adaptation of the film.

In case you don't know, Carvalho's co-star, Dwayne Johnson, previously announced that the 2016 film has a live-action version in the works and that he'll once again be bringing to life the mighty demigod Maui who assists Moana in the story.

However, in a video posted on her Instagram, Carvalho said that while being casted in the film "wonderfully changed her life and started her career," she has made the decision not to portray Moana for the live-action retelling. She will instead serve as an executive producer.

"I believe it is absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell. So as an executive producer on the film, I cannot wait to help find the next actress to portray Moana's courageous spirit, undeniable wit, and emotional strength," she explained.

She went on, "I am truly honored to pass this baton to the next young woman of Pacific Island descent, to honor our incredible Pacific peoples, cultures, and communities that helped inspire her story. I look forward to all the beautiful Pacific representation to come."

Carvalho is a Native Hawaiian, but she is also of Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish ancestry. She was casted in this landmark role of the first Pacific Islander Disney princess when she was just 14 years old.

Many of her followers were saddened by the news, but nevertheless supported her decision to find another actress for Moana.

"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," one user commented.

Another one wrote, "Being mixed myself, I would also want for someone who is 100 percent Polynesian or Indigenous to play someone who is supposed to be as such. Proud that this is being done though, you did amazing in the animated version of Moana!"

The decision comes as Disney has received some flak over its casting in the upcoming live-action remake of Lilo and Stitch, wherein fans accused them of "whitewashing" Lilo's sister Nani when they casted Fil-Am actress Sydney Agudong to play the dark-skinned character. 

Released seven years ago, Moana tells the story of an adventurous teenager who sails across the ocean to save her people and her island by restoring the heart of a goddess named Te Fiti.