Let’s talk about 16-year-old Auli’i Cravalho, because if you didn’t know her name yesterday, you most certainly know it—and won’t soon forget it—today.
As the star (and voice of) Moana, she performed the film’s hit “How Far I’ll Go” (which was also a nominee for Best Song) at the 2017 Academy Awards. An amazing life goal for any performer, Auli’i’s big moment was made even more surreal when the writer of the song—none other than Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda—performed a rap to introduce her to the stage. It was one of those captivating Hollywood moments where a star is born.
But, the most impressive part of Auli’i’s performance was how she seamlessly and graciously handled an unexpected glitch. It’s live TV so anything can happen—like a piece of the set falling and hitting you in the head mid-song.
The performer kept singing—and smiling—acting like it was all supposed to happen. It’s precisely how you’d expect a Disney princess to handle such a twist. To be honest, it’s doubtful that any of the more seasoned performers in the room would have handled such a mishap with the same cool.
Auli’i Cravalho at the Academy Awards on February 26, 2017.
The internet went wild, lavishing Auli’i with praise for beautifully following that adage “the show must go on.”
Auli’i Cravalho was so humbled, taking in the moment with this perfect photo and tweet:
Auli’i was 14 years old when she beat out hundreds of other young girls in an open casting call for someone “brave, inquisitive, and confident” and with strong singing skills. The Hawaii native (born in Kohala but living in Mililani with her mother at the time of her casting) wasn’t going to audition until a talent agent from Oahu discovered her at a charity competition and encouraged her to go for it. She was the LAST person to audition for the role and well, the rest as they say, is history. She told PEOPLE, “From baby time to now, I wanted to be a Disney princess and then I wanted to be a singer or an actress.”
While Auli'i hasn’t landed her next big role—it’s safe to say that after tonight, every producer and casting director is clamoring to find her a project. Plus, she has the spirit of Moana to inspire her as she waits for what’s next. “[Moana’s] brave, she’s so empowered, she knows what she wants and she is not afraid to get it, and I think that is something that I can relate to as well,” she told People. “I just love watching how she goes along in this wonderful movie and grows as a person and helps her culture along the way.”