Disney’s live-action Moana has found its new leading lady — meet Catherine Laga’aia.

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” Catherine said in a statement, per Variety. “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.”

Who Is Catherine Laga’aia?

Catherine is a 17-year-old from Sydney, Australia. Prior to being cast as Moana, she has one acting credit — a 2023 TV show titled The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, according to IMDb.

Following her casting announcement, Auli’i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the original 2016 animated film, reacted to the news on her Instagram Stories. “EŌ Moana! Our village just got a whole lot bigger❤️❤️❤️,” she wrote on June 12, 2024.

While Auli’i will not be reprising her character in the live-action movie, she will serve as an executive producer on the project!

“I believe it is absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell,” she wrote on Instagram in May 2023. “I can’t wait to find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit and emotional strength.”

Who Else Is In the Cast of ‘Moana’ Live-Action?

Adding to the stellar lineup, Auckland native John Tui steps in as Moana’s paternal figure, Chief Tui, while Frankie Adams, a talent hailing from the vibrant Samoan-New Zealand community, takes on the role of Moana’s nurturing mother, Sina. Rena Owen, who is from the Bay of Islands, embodies the cherished character of Gramma Tala.

The exciting live-action project was unveiled last April, marking Dwayne Johnson‘s triumphant return as Maui, while also serving as a producer.

Moana will be directed by Thomas Kail, who has worked on Broadway’s Hamilton, Grease Live and We Were the Lucky Ones.

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

The live-action Moana has a theatrical release date of July 10, 2026.

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