Auli’i Cravalho Responds to “Woke Disney” and the Ongoing Strikes

moana auli'i cravalho

These days, Disney fans seem to be divided between complaining and cheering when it comes to Disney’s efforts to be more inclusive in its most recent films. Some critics have even begun calling the Walt Disney Company “woke Disney.”

However, Moana actress Auli’i Cravalho recently revealed in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment that Disney is definitely not perfect when it comes to inclusivity, no matter how onlookers individually feel about it!

Auli'i Cravalho showing her tattoo

Credit: Auli’i Cravalho Instagram

Disney Still Has a”Long Way to Go”

“We’ve got a long way to go,” the singer and actress declared in the interview. “I hope to see more South Asian representation as well, of course, [as] more native Hawaiian representation. Whether on-screen, behind the camera, or in the editing room.”

When the subject of the ongoing WGA strike and SAG-AFTRA strike came up, the young celebrity (who also just began playing Evita on stage at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane) was just as fervent as her fellow Disney princess actress Rachel Zegler has been.

“Everyone deserves a fair deal and fair compensation,” the Hawaiian native explained. “Many of us are in this industry because we are passionate about the art. We need our partnerships with these larger companies to prove that they too are just as passionate in supporting us before, during, and after we create it.”

The “Unsustainable” Truth About Hollywood

Unlike some of her Disney co-workers, Cravalho did not directly mention Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger (who has come under fire for his remarks about the strikes). However, Cravalho did insist that “our current model of Hollywood is unsustainable for all of us.”

Even though Auli’i is not returning to her role as the live-action Moana for the live-action remake (and no, her replacement doesn’t actually seem to be Zendaya despite the rumors), the original film’s inspiring heroine, the movie’s stunning animated visuals, and a soundtrack that can be motivational even in the most trying of times have all combined to make Moana a consistently-popular Disney princess.

auli'i cravalho next steps

Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson star as Moana and Maui in ‘Moana’. Credit: Disney

This popularity certainly seems to extend to Auli’i, who has shared her support for the strikes and has called out Disney for needing more diversity without attracting the backlash that other Disney celebrities have faced.

The Polynesian princess that Auli’i first portrayed will be returning to the big screen again in the live-action adaptation of the 2016 film, but not for quite a while if the ongoing WGA strike continues to keep movie productions shut down in Hawaii! 

“I Really Don’t Feel Famous”

Auli’i Cravalho also spoke about her own fame in the new interview; fame came to her somewhat unexpectedly, when she was cast as Moana the Disney princess at just 14 years old.

“I really don’t feel famous,” the 22-year-old admitted. “I get a fair amount of advice, but I’ve learned to only ingest the nuggets of information from people I know and trust. I’ve learned to not take everyone’s advice.”


Auli’i Cravalho starred as Moana opposite Dwayne Johnson as Maui in ‘Moana’, but she is not playing Moana in the upcoming live-action remake. Credit: Business Insider

Auli’i Cravalho has also spoken about her struggles when it came to becoming wealthy after starring in Moana and starring in shows like Rise and the 2020 film All Together Now, having found it disconcerting to go from an EBT-dependent lifestyle to a financially-comfortable environment.

Many Disney fans might not also know that Auli’i Cravalho has actually played two Disney princesses, since she portrayed Ariel in Disney’s Little Mermaid Live production opposite Queen Latifah as Ursula!

Cravalho is set to star in a new animated Disney show next, as well as an upcoming Mean Girls musical adaptation.

However, with the strikes still raging on, we can’t be sure when Auli’is newest projects will be available for eager audiences — and we can’t be sure if Disney will take Cravalho’s comments about diversity to heart, either!

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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