Disney's live-action “Moana” casts Catherine Laga'aia in lead role

Disney's live-action “Moana” casts Catherine Laga'aia in lead role

"I'm really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites," the 17-year-old actress said.

The line where the sky meets the sea is calling Catherine Laga‘aia.

The 17-year-old actress from Sydney, Australia, has officially been cast as the lead in Disney’s upcoming live-action Moana adaptation. The project, which is based on the 2016 animated film, will begin production this summer. 

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” Laga’aia said in a press release. “My grandfather comes from Fa‘aala, Palauli, in Savai‘i. And my grandmother is from Leulumoega Tuai on the main island of ‘Upolu in Samoa. I’m honored to have an opportunity to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island peoples, and to represent young girls who look like me.”

<p>Alexei Hay; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett</p> Catherine Laga'aia; Moana

Alexei Hay; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett

Catherine Laga'aia; Moana

Related: Moana is back and visibly older in new Moana 2 photo

Joining Laga’aia on her journey is John Tui, Frankie Adams, and Rena Owen, who will play Moana’s father Chief Tui, mother Sina, and beloved grandmother Tala, respectively. She’ll also team up along the way with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is reprising his role as the mischievous demigod Maui from the original film and also serves as a producer on the project.

“I am thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie and John through this casting process. I am humbled by this opportunity, and I cannot wait to all be on set together,” director Thomas Kail said in a press release. “And there’s no better pair to be in a canoe with than Catherine and Dwayne—actually, trio: Heihei is ready, too.”

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Although Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the animated film, won’t be playing her in the live-action adaptation, she is still involved in the project as an executive producer on the film. She is also set to reprise her role in the upcoming animated sequel, Moana 2. (Lin-Manuel Miranda, who penned the film's original songs including "How Far I'll Go," will also serve as producer.)

Related: Surprise! Moana 2 is sailing to theaters this November — see the first look

Prior to wading into the waters of Moana, Laia'aga's only credit listed on her IMDb page is for a three-episode stint as a young version of Alycia Debnam-Carey's character Candy in the 2023 Amazon Prime television series, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

Moana is set to wash ashore in theaters on July 10, 2026.

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