HomeNative HawaiianAuliʻi Cravalho talks about what being AAPI means to her

Auliʻi Cravalho talks about what being AAPI means to her

By Erin Chew

Auli’i Cravalho (Moana, The Power, upcoming Mean Girls musical movie) stars as the title character in Disney Television’s newest animated comedy-adventure series Hailey’s On It!. Cravalho told AsAmNews that a big reason for her to be a part of the series is to shift the paradigm that Disney heroes/heroines can be AAPI and have darker skin tones and how it sends young kids/tweens messages about stepping out of comfort zones and confronting fears.

Hailey is a cautious, curious and strategic teenager who has a very ambitious to-do list. What is so awesome about playing her is that she is the character I wish I saw in cartoons when I was a kid – being AAPI and having tanned skin. I hope she can inspire kids to go for their dreams”, Cravalho said.

Hailey’s On It! follows Hailey, a risk-averse but resourceful teenager on a mission to complete every item on her long list of challenging – and sometimes impractical – tasks in order to save the world. Whether she’s tackling every ride at the county fair, performing in a musical, reuniting a singing duo, or facing her ever-growing and complicated feelings toward her best friend, Scott (Manny Jacinto), Hailey is always encountering new challenges – and more opportunities to conquer her fears.

Hailey is the type of character every young AAPI girl dreams to be because of her interests, goals, courage and perseverance. For Cravalho, she felt lucky to voice Hailey because she made up for traits Cravalho herself didn’t have and wish she had. At the same time, Cravalho mentioned that she did inject some of her own personality into Hailey in order to make her whole and realistic.

Hailey is brave and has many niche interests. She enjoys building and creating stuff and is a woman of STEM – building robots and other scientific/technological things. So really she is different to me and makes up for things I wish I could do. For Hailey, I have injected quite a bit of my own goofy personality, but also my passion for what I do. Her general mannerisms are what I contribute to make her a more rounded and layered character”.

An interesting point that Cravalho made was that where AAPI Heritage Month is only celebrated officially one month of the year in May (which has just ended for 2023), that shouldn’t restrict the AAPI community to make every month AAPI Heritage Month. She mentioned that one month isn’t enough considering the cultural diversity of what makes up the AAPI community and the work that needs to be done to ensure the younger generations of AAPIs can consistently see themselves on TV and in other important areas. For Cravalho, playing Hailey is a testament to her Hawaiian heritage and her pride in being an islander. Playing roles that can inspire a new generation of AAPIs is what AAPI Heritage Month means for her.

“We really only officially get one month to celebrate what it means to be AAPI. But why can’t we do this every day of the year? Let’s not just restrict ourselves to just May, and now that we are in June, this month can also be AAPI Heritage Month unofficially. I am the type of person who wears her heart on her sleeve and have been blessed to have been involved in projects which celebrate my AAPI and specifically my Hawaiian heritage. I will continue to do this so that AAPI children have more heroines and people they can look up to”, Cravalho passionately expressed.

Hailey’s On It! can be streamed on Disney + after each episode premiering weekly on the Disney Channel.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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