Arts and Entertainment

7 things we learned from the ‘Moana’ Press Conference

“Moana” is set to make a splash in theaters on Nov. 23. The film follows the first Disney Polynesian princess as she sails across the ocean to restore peace to her island. Moana is voiced by Auli’i Cravalho. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson voices her companion, demi-god Maui. Creator of “Hamilton” Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote songs for…
<a href="" target="_self">Cassandra Hsiao</a>

Cassandra Hsiao

November 21, 2016

“Moana” is set to make a splash in theaters on Nov. 23. The film follows the first Disney Polynesian princess as she sails across the ocean to restore peace to her island. Moana is voiced by Auli’i Cravalho. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson voices her companion, demi-god Maui. Creator of “Hamilton” Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote songs for the movie-musical.

Here are 7 things we learned from the “Moana” Press Conference!


  1. Lin-Manuel Miranda had a certain famous Disney song running through his head while composing for “Moana.”

Miranda is a self-proclaimed Disney lover. To work on a Disney animated movie was a dream come true—however, this subsequently placed a lot of pressure on the acclaimed songwriter.

“I will admit the first time I sat down at my piano to work on something this I remember thinking, don’t think about ‘Let it Go,’ don’t think about ‘Let it Go,’ don’t think about ‘Let it Go,’” he laughed. “But you solve that problem by just really, really getting inside the heads of your characters. My way into ‘Moana’ in particular was the way she feels the call of the sea… [That’s] the way I felt about writing music and making movies and singing songs when I was 16 years old living on 200th Street in Manhattan and thinking, the distance between where I am and where I want to be seems impossibly large. I got myself into that mindset to write her songs.”

  1. Lin gave advice to young aspiring writers using an apt metaphor

“Keep writing. Don’t stop writing,” he said to a young reporter in the audience. “When you start writing, you’re turning on a faucet and when you turn on a faucet, the water’s brown and it’s full of whatever’s just been in there, clogged up and waiting to come out. Then you just keep writing and writing until the water’s clear and that’s when you find your own voice.”

  1. The Rock cried when he watched “Moana” for the first time

Johnson voices cocky demi-god Maui, Moana’s companion as they sail across the ocean. He recapped the first time he saw the film in theaters.

“What I noticed [was that audiences] were floating when they walked out of the theater. It was such a cool thing to be a part of, to watch them come out and float. In my entire career, I’ve never cried consistently through a movie. Ever! And anyway, it was a very, very special thing.”

The Rock, who is Polynesian, also spoke about how he hopes audiences will receive the movie on opening day.

“I feel like the Polynesian people are going to be incredibly proud of the movie,” he said. “I think what’s going to touch upon all of us, regardless of where we’re at in the world— where we’re from, cultures, class, religion—is the voice. There’s so much noise that’s happening in our world, but there’s the little voice that you’ve always got to listen to, your gut, your intuition. You can do things, you can go beyond boundaries and you have to trust that gut and instinct. So those are the things I feel like our people are going to take away and the rest of the world will take away.”


  1. Auli’i Cravalho, the voice of Moana, grew up learning about the mythical tales portrayed in the movie

The youngest voice actress for a Disney princess, Cravalho was discovered by Disney in her native state Hawaii.

“I’ve grown up in Hawaii all my life. I grew up in a small town in Kwahala on the Big Island of Hawaii, where I literally grew up with pigs and chickens,” explained Cravalho. “I am deeply rooted to my culture. I actually go to an all-Hawaiian school where the mythology and the folklore of Maui is in our curriculum. I’ve listened to his stories as bedtime stories and I’ve grown up with the Elohof spirit just around me and I’m sure Dwayne can second that.”

The singer-actress is will turn 16 the day before “Moana” hits theaters, which is Nov. 23. She spoke about the “incredible journey” Disney has given her, and plans to continue in the industry.

“I’m working with the best people in the entire world, of whom are making a film inspired by my culture, the culture that I have lived every day of my life and that is something so incredibly special, for the rest of the world to see,” said Cravalho. “But I mean, for me, as someone who is hoping to continue in show business… I was wondering, how would I continue in this and still be Polynesian? As I continue in this and as I potentially might leave my home, what does that make me? Am I still grounded and rooted in the way that I want to be? I can honestly say yes, because being surrounded by my family and by the Hawaiian culture every day, it seems as though I would never lose it. To have a film like this that will inspire me and to have a character that will inspire others as well, to become rooted in who they truly are, that’s something that inspires me and that I hope will inspire others as well. Which is what this incredible team put together, so thank you.”

  1. Cravalho is not the only star in her family—her mom has a line in the movie!

Keep your eyes and ears peeled—Cravalho’s mother plays the woman with the coconut who informs the princess and her family of a problem on an island. As she’s leaving, the woman comments on Moana’s performance as the chief’s daughter, saying, “She’s doing great.”

  1. “Moana” pays tribute to “Mad Max: Fury Road”

An action sequence in “Moana” involves our heroes navigating the seas, trying to escape little coconut-shaped monster pirates called Kakamura. John Ripa, who was in charge of the storyboards for that sequence, took inspiration from George Miller’s action flick.

  1. Both Miranda’s and Johnson’s kids’ names are in the end credits

During the end credits, Disney has a tradition of listing the names of all the children born over the course of making a movie. Lin called it a “full circle” to see his son Sebastian’s name on top of the list (who he named after “The Little Mermaid” lobster) as he booked “Moana” the same day he found out he was a father. The Rock’s daughter’s name is right next to Sebastian’s.


Catch “Moana” in theaters, Nov. 23.

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