“All About Auli’i Cravalho, the Amazing 16-Year-Old Voice of Disney’s Moana”

“Before you get to know Auli’i Cravalho, the amazing 16-year-old voice of Disney’s new heroine Moana, it’s probably best you learn how to pronounce her name.

“It’s ‘ow,’ like you stubbed your toe. ‘Lee,’ like Bruce Lee. Then, you add an ‘e.’ Auli’i Cravalho,” she explains (with bonus pantomimes) to PEOPLE in the above video.

 The Hawaiian native, who turned 16 on Tuesday (the day before her new movie premieres!), was born on the Big Island and now lives in Mililani on the island of Oahu with her mom, Puanani. The rising star was discovered almost by accident, when Disney talent scouts saw her sing in a YouTube video.

Cravalho, a member of her school’s glee club, gives props to her mom for her strong pipes. “I credit my singing to my mom because she didn’t give me a binky when I was a baby. I cried and screamed for the first six months — my mom would say four years of my life — and I developed wonderful lungs,” she says.

For the first-time actress, performing in the privacy of a sound booth was a welcome introduction to the big screen. “I really like it because when I’m in the studio, I kind of just close my eyes. I don’t have to worry about what I look like too much, and I don’t have to worry about perhaps not moving my eyebrows in the right direction to look sad or something,” she explains.

Plus, when it comes to acting with her voice, Cravalho is a natural. “I’m kind of an animated person,” she adds. “I was given this really big blessing that my voice just kind of carries the emotion.”

In the film, Cravalho plays Moana Waialiki, the high-spirited daughter of the chief of a mystical Polynesian island, who sets sail to an island with a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) to help save her family from disaster. The story is full of Disney fantasy, but Cravalho says her character’s journey toward self-discovery — and the fact that she makes that journey alone — is relatable to everyone…”

http://people.com/movies/all-about-aulii-cravalho-the-amazing-16-year-old-voice-behind-moana/

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