The star of Moana, Auli'i Cravalho, who stole the hearts of millions around the world with her role as the voice of Moana, is impressed by Samoa.
The 16-year-old arrived at Fagalii airport yesterday with producer Osnat Shurer, and directors Ron Clements and John Musker for a special the screening of the film at Apollo Cinemas last night.
Her first time in Samoa, Auli’i told the Samoa Observer, she was impressed by the warm hospitality and the cultural welcome she and her team received yesterday.
“I have never been to Samoa before but I do have family here so it would be good to see them as well as to see everyone else,” she said.
“This film is inspired by all of Polynesia, the entire Polynesian culture and it really warms my heart to be meeting one of the main people and some of the main places that inspired this wonderful film.
“I am super excited.”
Unfortunately Samoan actor, Seiuli Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson who voiced Maui in the film, couldn’t make the visit.
But Auli’i said that working with him was like meeting one of her heroes. “He’s really been a hero of Hawaiians as well having lived in Hawaii for a period of time,” she said.
“And so, it was really incredible, it was kind of like meeting one of my heroes. You know we start off with the same roots, we are all Polynesian and then to see him have so much success and remain humble and kind and the same aloha spirit, that was amazing to me and it really warms my heart and I hope to work with him again.
“I mean, first film working with Dwayne the Rock Johnson, not bad.” Asked about the differences and similarities between Samoa and her home Hawaii, the bubbly Auli’I says there are many.
“There are definitely differences and similarities as well,” she said.
“We are all connected by the beautiful ocean but there are definitely differences in the language. I’m currently in Hawaii and I am trying to study the language.
“I was like, oh this is perfect, I am going to read this card, and then I tried to read it and I was on a plane, I tried to read the emergency instructions and I was like, ok switching back to English.
“I am learning it but it’s really good to see some similarities and I can hear it sometimes and I can definitely see it in the dances that we get to see.
“Oh and we were welcomed at the airport with dance and that was incredibly beautiful and I was so honored.” Auli’I also stated that her experience with the film Moana was one in lifetime. “It’s been the experience of a lifetime,” she said.
“I’m 16 now and I was, I believe 14 when I first heard and started auditioning for Moana. So it’s been really an amazing journey for me; I have grown so much and I have come to just, kind of become the character.
“It’s been amazing to see others experience through her. To realize that way-finding is something true to our culture. We’ve known how amazing we are but now the rest of the world gets to appreciate and hopefully go out on their own journey as well.”
And as a message for Samoa, Auli’I reminds the nation that we should be proud of who we are.
“I hope you all are as proud of this film as I am,” she said.
“I am so thrilled that the rest of the world will see what an incredible culture we are. We are surrounded and embraced and loved by the ocean.“I also hope that others who watched this film realize how important the ocean is to us. It’s where the life stems from and we’ve known how important it is.
“We always have such an importance and we know so much knowledge that I think the rest of the world can learn from us about this.
“So Samoa, you understand, you get me; we’re amazing and it’s time for the rest of the world to realize it.” But where to from here for the bubbly star?
“I want to eat food,” she said.
“That’s one of the major things; there are a few places and a few family members of mine who cook palusami so I want that.”