Why Disney nailed its casting choice for its newest princess, Moana.

On Oct. 7, 2015, Disney revealed more details on its newest princess, Moana.

And, as expected, the Interwebs shook with joy.



The film — aptly titled "Moana," of course — follows its leading gal on her search for a fabled island in the South Pacific, as E! News reported. It's set to be released in theaters Nov. 2016. *marks calendar*

Disney also introduced the world to the real girl who's bringing Moana to life on screen, 14-year-old Auli'i Cravalho.

In about a year, Cravalho's voice will be filling up theaters around the globe.

GIFs via Disney.

The film has already landed Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (who better suited to portray a demigod named Maui in the film than he?), who shared how thrilled he was about Cravalho's casting on Instagram.

IT'S OFFICIAL: After months and months of worldwide casting calls, we've finally found our next DISNEY Princess... #MOANA. I'm pumped to welcome 14yr old @AuliiCravalho of Mililani, Hawaii to our project. What's amazing about this story is that she didn't think she was good enough so she never auditioned. Fortunately, one of our Oahu casting agents discovered her singing at a charity competition and the rest is history. * An awesome lesson to all young kids out there... work hard, have confidence in yourselves and never think you're not good enough because you never know what the future holds. Congratulations Auli'i! Can't wait to work with you and watch you bring this new Disney Princess to life. #YesThatsMeOnTheRight #HisNameIsMaui #HesADemiGod #AndHePutsMoanaInHerPlace #SoHeThinks #DisneyAnimation #MOANA #TimeToSing
A photo posted by therock (@therock) on


As Johnson explained above, Cravalho has virtually no big-time acting experience and was discovered by a casting agent in Oahu when she was singing at a charity competition. She went from an everyday teen to the buzz of the Internet overnight.

Maybe the coolest thing about Cravalho, though? She's actually Hawaiian.

To find Moana, Disney auditioned hundreds of girls throughout the Pacific Islands before deciding Cravalho — who is native Hawaiian — was the "perfect match."

“I didn't think I would have a chance," Cravalho said. “When I was little, I used to dance around the house singing at the top of my lungs. In my mind, that was performing, and I loved the feeling of it. But I never imagined being in a Disney movie, being Moana — representing my culture in that way."

It's worth celebrating when films cast people of color as characters of color. Because, oddly enough, that doesn't happen nearly as often as it should.

If you haven't heard of it, there's this thing Hollywood does called whitewashing, where characters that should be played by actors of color end up being played by white actors instead.

And film studios have been doing this for quite some time now. Remember when Elizabeth Taylor played Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra? Or when Jake Gyllenhaal portrayed the Prince of Persia? Yup.

Photo by Niklas Halle'N/AFP/Getty Images.

Recently, many filmgoers were outraged over Emma Stone being cast as Allison Ng — a character with Asian and Hawaiian roots — in "Aloha." And director Roland Emmerich felt his fair share of criticism for casting a white, cisgender man as the lead in his film, "Stonewall," ignoring the fact many of the real-life human rights pioneers from the 1969 Stonewall Riots for LGBTQ inclusion were actually people of color and transgender.

And just this past weekend, actor Rooney Mara told told People magazine she empathized with the frustration directed toward her casting in the film "Pan," in which she stars as Tiger Lily, a character who is undeniably Native American.

Seeing as a recent study from USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that just 17 of the top 100-grossing films last year featured someone from an underrepresented racial group as a lead character, it's vital that people of color get more opportunity to tell their stories on screen.

In a time where whitewashing remains all too common in Hollywood, Cravalho's casting shouldn't be dismissed as no big deal. It's exciting!

Yes, "Moana" is just one movie, and Cravalho is just one actor. But it's a film that's already stirring excitement an entire year before its release. It's going to have an effect.

The world will watch a "badass" teen from the Pacific Islands fight monsters and capture millions of hearts on screen. The fact the real girl bringing Moana to life is someone who shares cultural similarities with her animated character is a pretty sweet addition to an already cool story.

Learn more about Cravalho being cast as Moana below:

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less