1. If anyone could play you in a movie, who would you pick?
I would choose Viola Davis because I think she’s one of the best — if not the best — actresses of color.
2. Describe your style in three words.
Imma. Be. Cute. Which means, I’m gonna be cute in whatever I’m wearing, whether it’s heels or flip flops.
3. Craziest fan story?
“It was probably one of the worst moments of my life…”
I am Moana first and foremost and then I’m Auli’i, and I remember I was walking through the grocery store and I could tell that there was a mother and her child just kind of tailing me throughout the entire store… So, I kind of turn around, and I was like, “Hi, I’m Auli’i Cravalho. I think you know that.” And she’s like, “Oh my gosh, it is you. It’s so nice to meet you. Do you mind taking a picture with my child?” And I look at her child, and her child’s probably like four… and this kid does not know who I am. And she’s like, really tired, I can tell. She wants to go home. She has no idea who this 17-year-old girl is. And I’m like, “Sure, you want to take a picture?” So the mom picks up her kid who is NOT having it, and places her in my arms. And she starts bawling. Absolutely bawling. Just screaming her head off. It was probably one of the worst moments of my life because her mother wanted nothing more than for me to hold her and I was like, please just take her home.
4. Which emoji do you use the most?
Either the laughing/crying emoji or the red heart emoji. I’m either crying or just loving.
5. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Grammar. Just wrong usage of grammar — it kills me.
6. Last person who texted you?
I texted my mom last. She said, “Good luck today,” and I said thank you.
7. What’s one beauty product you can’t live without?
Sunscreen. I’ll give up mascara, I’ll give up a hairbrush — sunscreen.
“I’ve been told that I look like Vanessa Hudgens.”
8. Who’s your celebrity doppelgänger?
I’ve been told that I look like Vanessa Hudgens and Miranda Cosgrove from iCarly.
9. Favorite reality show?
I actually don’t watch any TV at all. I don’t have a TV. I don’t want a TV. Because as cool as reality shows seem, my reality is enough of a craziness for me to live. But, it was through Rise that I was like, mom, I know that you raised me without TV, but I feel for intensive study purposes we should get Netflix. And she was like, fine. So now I’m binge-watching Stranger Things, and all of the shows that I didn’t get to watch.
“I actually don’t watch any TV at all.”
10. So, you’ve never seen your Rise co-star, Josh Radnor, in How I Met Your Mother?
No! I haven’t! I really have to watch it, I know that I do. Especially now after meeting and knowing Josh. He’s so smart and kind off camera. Knowing all of that, I now need to see him in How I Met Your Mother.
11. What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My mom, my cat — my family. I’m not in Hawaii and they’re miles away. I just have to feel that they’re close to my heart.
12. What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
I don’t feel guilty about any of my pleasures, really. I will eat ice cream straight out of the tub!
13. Favorite place to visit?
Hawaii — back home. There’s no better place. I go back as often as I can, so if I’m off for a long weekend, I will be on that 10-hour flight back.
14. Hidden talent?
I’m double jointed!
“I’m so proud of myself for working a
full-time job as well as completing my school work.”
15. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m working so hard to graduate high school. So I will be graduating and I’m so proud of myself for working a full-time job as well as completing my school work. I’m almost there!
16. Dream vacation spot?
I would love to visit Spain!
17. Name something on your bucket list.
Jumping out of a plane — with a parachute! I should probably say that.
18. Biggest fear?
Drowning. Specifically, in the shower, which is why I don’t sing in the shower. Fun fact.
19. Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“I got to meet Justin Timberlake. Greatest guy. Beautiful blue eyes.”
I’ve received a lot of really good advice in my 17 years of living. But I will say that, before I performed on the Oscars, I got to meet Justin Timberlake. Greatest guy. Beautiful blue eyes. But most importantly, he told me that I was meant to be there. Which was crazy to hear, because at 16 years old, I was like — this is too much. There are so many amazing people who have worked hard to get into this industry, and I managed to just kind of slip my way in and now I’m living this amazing dream. However you got here, you’re meant to be here. That was just mind-blowing and it just warmed my heart.
20. Background wallpaper on your phone?
[checks phone] L-M-A-O, it is Moana! I am Moana!
21. Describe the perfect day.
My perfect day would be surrounded by my family, all of us drinking some type of warm hot cocoa/coffee/chai/tea beverage. It’s cold outside and we’re just having a blast.
22. What’s been your favorite song to perform on Rise so far?
Might be “Mama Who Bore Me (Reprise)” [from Spring Awakening]. I love that song. It’s a strong belt song. It’s with all of my gals and we are all just singing our heads off. There’s also some really cool choreography — I’ve never really been a dancer, but I got to learn choreography and put some moves into my singing. It was really fun all around.
23. You’ve now worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda on both Rise and Moana. Any fun stories about him?
“I will never forget singing to Lin-Manuel Miranda over FaceTime while he was dressed as Hamilton.”
Lin actually wrote the rap that my co-star Damon Gillespie raps in the pilot. So you’ll be able to hear that. It’s amazing, as per usual with all of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work. Working with him on Moana was absolutely amazing. The first time I stepped into a recording booth to sing the actual music, we had to FaceTime with Lin while he was here in New York for Hamilton — the BUSIEST guy on Earth — and so we FaceTimed him, and, I’m pretty sure he was in a white button-down, and I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but it had a little bit of flounce to it and I think he might have been in costume for Hamilton as we were FaceTiming him. He was like, “Okay! I’ve got like 20 minutes, I’m below the stage! Just let me hear it!” And so I sang, “How Far I’ll Go” for the first time and I will never forget that — singing to the incredible Lin-Manuel Miranda over FaceTime while he was dressed as Hamilton.
24. Which Disney character do you relate to most other than Moana?
Mulan. I loved Mulan. I always have. I don’t think I realized it when I was younger, but older me now realizes that part of the reason I loved what she did was because she was breaking gender norms. And she was like, “I really couldn’t care less if this is what a girl is supposed to do, because this is what needs to be done.” She also just really wanted it. To honor her family. So that’s something, as I sit here in this interview, as I go out in the world, I always want to make my family proud. So it’s always something I keep in mind.
25. Do you have a favorite memory about The Rock from working on Moana with him?
“Dwayne Johnson is amazing.”
Dwayne Johnson is amazing. He’s so funny, he’s so nice. I really couldn’t have gotten luckier working with the cast of Moana, because they were all so professional but also so heartfelt. And, it being my first movie — my first job — it was really important, I felt, to work with kind individuals. So, I got to work with him while we were in Los Angeles on the press tour, and — you can watch the video on YouTube — Dwayne had spent weeks trying to learn my name. Auli’i — he got that down. But on my last name, Cravalho, I was like, “Oh yeah, my name’s Auli’i Craval-YO” and he was like, “Wait – Craval-HO” and I was like, “No, actually you can drop the HO, it’s a YO.” And it was hilarious, you can actually watch that. I don’t really let up on that and he takes it all in good sport.
26. What’s the last thing you searched for on Google?
The boroughs of New York. Because I don’t know all of the boroughs of New York just yet, and I’m trying to figure out where I should live.
27. What do you hope for in 2018?
I think actually a lot of my hopes, I’m currently seeing come to fruition. I am in an amazing show. I know that people are going to see it, so I’m very excited for that. I’m also really proud, on a personal level, of my generation. I’m proud that they’re speaking out, that they’re making a difference. And that’s MY generation. In 2018, I will be 18. And a lot changes. I’m looking forward to the elections — 2018 holds a lot for myself and for everyone who wants to see change.
Catch Auli’i Cravalho on Rise every Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC!