What You Need To Know About Auli'i Cravalho

Human ray of sunshine Auli'i Cravalho burst onto the scene after landing the starring role in Disney's Moana, with the native Hawaiian becoming the youngest actress to ever voice a Disney princess. The movie was a huge hit, showing off Cravalho's pipes, humor, and acting chops, and the actress then topped it all off with a fantastic (and unflappable) Oscars performance, proving she has as much charisma and star power as Moana herself. With Cravalho's career likely just starting, here is everything you should know about the young starlet.

She almost didn't audition for Moana

Moana was Cravalho's breakout role, but it turns out that she almost missed out on auditioning for the part at all. Cravalho told People that, even though she had always dreamed of being a singer or an actress, she didn't think she would land the lead if she auditioned, so she decided not to go out for the role.

"When I first heard that there was going to be an audition to potentially play the role of Moana, I thought, no way that could be me," Cravalho said in a casting video released by Disney. She was busy with her freshman year of high school (and even had a molecular biology test to worry about), and, seeing that there had already been so many "great submissions" sent in over YouTube, she didn't think it was worth it.

Luckily, a casting director ended up finding her through an a cappella audition tape she and a group of friends had made for a local charity event (which they didn't actually book) and suggested that Cravalho audition. "Auli'i was the very last girl that I saw on my last day of casting," noted casting director Rachel Sutton.

Cravalho went for the audition and got a callback, where producers decided to play a little trick on her by having her act like she had just gotten offered the part of Moana. Of course, as it turns out, she actually had, leading her to very adorably freak out (which you can watch in the video above). "We look at it, it's just such a blessing," said her mother Puanani. We can't help but agree.

She's still in high school

Even Disney princesses have to stay in school. Cravalho, who turned 16 the day after Moana was released, is currently completing her junior year of high school with the help of a tutor as she travels the country for her acting career.

"I'm still a registered student but I am just doing schooling a bit differently," she told Entertainment Tonight, noting that she studies subjects like trigonometry, chemistry, economics, and English. "I think I have the best of both worlds right now." Cravalho, ever the good student, was even studying during her downtime at the Oscars!

Although her schooling has become a little less traditional lately, Cravalho says she still plans to walk in her high school graduation ceremony with her friends next year, and she has even reportedly been considering colleges.

She's a big fan of The Rock and Meryl Streep

For Cravalho, Moana offered up quite a lot of pretty big experiences, including the opportunity to meet one of her celebrity crushes, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, who costarred as Maui. "The coolest thing about The Rock is his muscles," Cravalho told People after being cast in the movie. "Or his personality, his smile, his muscles. All of that." Agreed, Auli'i, agreed.

Cravalho is also a big fan of Meryl Streep, telling The San Francisco Chronicle that the actress was "beautiful inside and out" and "not overrated at all" (ahem). Moana actually gave Cravalho a chance to perform for her idol, with the singer freaking when she saw Streep in the front row ahead of her epic Oscars performance.

"While I was singing 'How Far I'll Go'... I looked down, and I saw Meryl Streep right in front of me and my heart almost leapt out of my chest and into her lap," Cravalho told Oh My Disney. "It didn't happen, but I was so, just happy to see her and she was smiling at me! And she was clapping for me! It was just like, 'Ahhhh!' My dreams were made."

Her favorite Disney heroine is Mulan

Okay, maybe we should put an asterisk up there — Cravalho's favorite Disney princess is now, of course, Moana. But growing up, Cravalho said she most identified with Mulan, a character who, in many ways, is a spiritual predecessor to the feisty adventurer.

"I didn't realize it at the time but as a young girl, I knew that she was breaking some kind of rules," Cravalho told The San Francisco Chronicle. "Now I realize she was breaking gender norms, and I thought that was so great. She was strong and beautiful. She loved her family unconditionally, and would do anything for them, and it didn't make her weak. It made her even stronger."

People call her Moana now

Cravalho's and Moana's spirits are so entwined that even people who know her have started acting like the two are one and the same. "My nickname at school — my name, basically — is no longer Auli'i," she told Playbill. "I am strictly Moana. My friends call me Moana, my teachers call me Moana, which is amazing, and I've had so much support from all my friends and family."

Cravalho said the character she is now synonymous with has helped her grow as a person, telling Business Insider, "Throughout [Moana's] journey and the movie, she further realizes she's an amazing individual and she doesn't have to be anybody else. I personally feel like I've kind of blossomed into who I'm meant to be, and I love this journey that I'm on."

She's as big a Hamilton fan as you are

Two of the world's most adorable people are, it turns out, pretty close. Cravalho and Moana songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda have a pretty adorable friendship, with Cravalho fangirling over Miranda's Hamilton just as much as, well, the whole rest of the world. "Mesmerizing, Passionate, Captivating, Unforgettable..." she wrote on Twitter after getting the chance to see the show in September.

"He's so kind, and so smart, and really funny," Cravalho told Playbill of meeting Miranda. "He basically told me to be myself, which is something that I think everyone hears, but to really internalize it, and to hear it from him — someone who has had so much success — and [realize] that all you really need to get there is to be yourself, it hit me true. I still think about it to this day."

Miranda, for his part, has also gushed about Cravalho, writing on Twitter after their Oscars performance, "Still over the moon that the world got to meet last night. Pride is not the word I'm looking for."

Like Moana, she's a big fan of the ocean

Cravalho grew up on the beaches of O'ahu, so it makes sense that, like her character Moana, she has a very special connection to the ocean. She told The New York Times that, if she were to show someone around Hawaii, she would first take them to her favorite beach, where she likes to surf, swim, play water polo, and paddle outrigger canoes.

According to Cravalho, her love the ocean stems from more than just an appreciation for its beauty, though; it turns out, the actress has much better luck in the water than she does on land. "I'm totally clumsy on land," she told Playbill. "I joke that, because Moana means ocean, that's why my nickname is Moana — not 'Āina, which means land. I do not do well on land!"

She has an adorable way to teach people how to pronounce her name

Cravalho's name is fitting for the young star: Auli'i, in Hawaiian, actually means dainty or cute. However, the name can be difficult to pronounce, so Cravalho has a pretty fitting way to describe how to say it.

"It's 'ow,' like you stubbed your toe, 'lee,' like Bruce Lee, and then you add another 'ee,'" she told The San Francisco Chronicle. As for the last name, it's pronounced like "Cravalh-io," something which the actress says co-star Dwayne Johnson got wrong on more than one occasion. But hey, at least he says it right now!

She already has her next project lined up

Cravahlo got her start with Moana, but she doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. The actress has already lined up her next project, and it seems like it's bound for success.

Shortly after her epic Oscars performance, Cravalho announced she had been cast in Drama High, a new NBC pilot from Jason Katims. Katims, who has worked on Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, knows how to make a hit drama, and it sounds like Drama High is setting itself up to be just that.

The show is based on the 2013 book of the same name, which followed drama teacher Lou (How I Met Your Mother's Josh Radnor) and the inner workings of a high school theater department in a Rust Belt town in Pennsylvania. Cravalho will play one of the students, Lilette, who works part time at a local diner after school while dreaming of joining the drama department. The impressive cast also includes Pineapple Express' Rosie Perez, The Family's Rarmian Newton, and Stranger Things breakout Shannon Purser.

Although not much has been said about her role thus far, Cravalho has said that she is very excited to be taking on the part, which will likely highlight her singing voice. "I cried and realized my life was going to change completely more than it already has," she told Entertainment Tonight of how she felt after getting the call saying she had gotten the role. "I'm really looking forward to wearing the coats and jackets and scarves and boots that are worn [in New York, where the pilot is being shot]," she joked to Honolulu Magazine. "Because it's cold."

With Katims, Radnor, and Cravalho behind it, it seems like Drama High is bound to be a hit; and, with Cravalho's ever increasing talent, this could just be the start for the young actress.