During this past politically-charged Academy Awards ceremony held on February 26th, one act was certainly remembered by all who attended and watched. To break the tension as well as expectations was sixteen-year-old Auli’i Cravalho. Cravalho, an Oahu, Hawaii native and star of Disney’s Moana, has brought representation to both teenagers and, most remarkably, those of the Hawaiian backgrounds to the Oscars stage. Performing How Far I’ll Go, an original song from the hit movie, alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, Cravalho belt out the emotional song while doing much more positive influence than meets the eye.
Moana, the Disney princess movie that hit theaters this past November, shattered glass ceilings and conveyed importance and representation to young women and those of Hawaiian demographics. Based on Polynesian culture and mythology, the groundbreaking film follows sixteen-year-old Moana Waialiki and her journey to save those of her island from the curse of a Demigod. Through grit and perseverance, Moana saves the day, proving that young women are capable of anything. Much like Mulan, the film shows young women that anything is possible when hard work is incorporated into something one is truly passionate about.
Cravalho’s role in Moana was her first film experience, and hopefully not her last. Similar to Moana, Cravalho also grew up on an island and shares the same young age as her. Thanking Disney for “taking the time” to research Hawaiian culture and bring it to the big screens, something very unusual to the typical movies we see these days, she states that Moana can exemplify not only Hawaiian girls, but all girls in general.
“My advice to young women—and young men—is to go on that journey to find yourself. Please understand that it’s completely normal and completely necessary. I’m not saying you need to journey across hundreds of miles of ocean, but taking that time to find yourself is incredibly important. As a young teen, I really connect to that. In this day and age, we need more heroes and heroines. Be the hero or heroine of your own story, of your own life.”
Cravalho’s performance on the Oscar stage was truly inspiring to all. At such a young age, Cravalho is truly deserving of her recognition for her efforts to uplift young women everywhere through the power of acting. She is the walking epitome of Moana’s brave message that was shown in the film: women can do anything they put their mind to.