HomeBad Ass AsiansFirst Trailer Released for Disney's Moana , the First Polynesian Princess

First Trailer Released for Disney’s Moana , the First Polynesian Princess

Moana and the demi-god, Maui.
Moana and the demi-god, Maui.

By Ed Diokno

As Hollywood gets dragged into the 21st century, kicking and screaming to the inevitable realization that casting diversity in motion pictures is good for business, it’s a different story in the fantasy world of animation. Apparently, drawing characters of color is easier than casting actors of color.
The first trailer for Moana, Disney’s latest animated movie, debuted today (June 12). It features the first Polynesian princess in Disney’s universe of princesses.


In the latest addition to the Disney princess canon, Moana (Aul i’i Cravalho) sets sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is the demi-god Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).

The ‘Moana’ poster was released last week

Funny, but while watching the trailer it looks like The Rock, who is part Samoan, put his all into his role. I have not heard him more animated (pun intended). The tats the animators drew on Maui look fantastic!

Johnson said the film is a “visual and singing journey unlike anything you have ever seen before.”

Notably, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the Broadway musical Hamilton, wrote some original music for the movie. His Hamilton co-star Phillipa Soo, who plays Hamilton’s wife on stage, also stars in Moana in a still unnamed role.

RELATED: Hollywood grapples with whitewashing of Asian roles – AGAIN!

It is the first role for Aul i’i Carvalho, who is Hawaiian American, and had to undergo a rigorous audition process  to play the princess.

I imagine then, if Disney stays true to form in merchandising, that this Christmas, Pacific Islander parents will be buying Moana dolls that look like their daughters and temporary tattoos for their boys.

Moana joins an ever-growing list of Disney’s princesses of color. After criticism arose that all the Disney princesses had been White, Disney began introducing a more diverse line of young female characters: Jasmine was the first Arab princess (1992), Pocahontas was the first Native American princess (1995), Mulan was the first Asian princess (1998), and Tiana was the first African American princess (2009). This July, Disney will finally introduce its first Latina princess, Elena of Avalor.

It would be really good if Disney Studios, which also makes moves under Lucas Films and Marvel Studios among others, employs the same casting diversity for its real live actors that it does for its animated ones.

Moana will be out in theaters on Nov. 23, 2016 in time for the holiday season. Watch the first trailer below:


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