Auli’i Cravalho is playing the role of Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid Live tonight on ABC. She’s starring alongside Queen Latifah, Shaggy, John Stamos, and Graham Phillips. The musical is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Disney animated film. Here’s what you need to know about Cravalho.
1. She Was Moana in Disney’s Animated Film While She Was in High School
This isn’t her first lead role in a Disney story. At 14 she portrayed the lead role in Disney’s Moana and was the youngest actress to voice a Disney princess. At the time, she was still in school and balancing going to class with promotional appearances, Honolulu Magazine shared.
When she got her first big break, she was still living in Hawaii and was in the glee club of her high school. She told Variety that she flew out once or twice a month while a sophomore, usually on weekends, to work on the film.
She said the one thing she had to cut back on for the role was water sports, which she loved.
2. Her Heritage Includes Native Hawaiian, Portuguese, Chinese, Puerto Rican, & Irish
Auliʻi Cravalho was born in Kohala, Hawaii. Her mother is native Hawaiian and her father is Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish, Honolulu Magazine shared.
She said that she and her mom both thought they were being scammed at first when they got an email about going to an audition for Moana, Variety reported. Her mom came with her to make sure it was legitimate.
3. She Ignored the Moana Casting Call Because She Didn’t Think She Had Enough Talent
Cravalho has said she ignored the Moana casting call at first because she didn’t think she had enough talent for the role. In an interview with People, Cravalho said that she didn’t think she needed to even try out for the role after some of her friends did.
“It was something kind of small and we were all just enjoying it,” Cravalho told People. “We didn’t get into the actual showcase that was planned but the person who was going through the videos contacted my mom and she said that Disney was still looking for someone to play the role of Moana.”
She was the last actress that casting director Rachel Sutton saw that day. She was later called to California for an audition. Producer Osnat Shurer said in a press conference that she had a lot of raw talent.
4. In 2015 She Said that the Disney Character She Related to the Most Was Ariel
Back in October 2015, Cravalho told People that the Disney character she related to the most was Ariel.
When I was younger I lived on Hawai’i, in the small town of Kohala. It was beautiful there! There were the trees and rolling green hills. It was beautiful and quaint but at the same time, I always wanted to just venture out. It wasn’t necessarily as difficult as it was for Ariel to give up her voice and walk on land, but it was still a challenge for me to change schools and change the place I had known so much, to go to someplace totally different. But in the end I’m really glad that I did!”
5. She Also Starred in ‘Rise’
In addition to her Disney roles, Cravalho starred as Lilette Suarez in 10 episodes of Rise in 2018. And she was Rayna in one episode of Weird City, a YouTube series. Rise was an NBC high school theater drama about a high school drama teacher who took over the theater department and inspires an entire town.
Rise was canceled by NBC after one season.