Disney princess without a prince

Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) befriends demigod Maui (above) on her journey of self-discovery.
Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) befriends demigod Maui (above) on her journey of self-discovery.PHOTO: WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS
Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho, above) befriends demigod Maui on her journey of self-discovery.
Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho, above) befriends demigod Maui on her journey of self-discovery.PHOTO: YIP WAI YEE

Hawaiian teenager Auli'i Cravalho, who voices the titular character in Moana, says it is important that the protagonist does not have a love interest

New Disney princess Moana does not have a love interest in the upcoming animated film of the same name - and that is just fine with the actress who voices her.

Hawaiian teenager Auli'i Cravalho, who was in Singapore to promote the movie, believes it is in fact "very important" that the character does not get a romantic storyline here.

"Moana doesn't need a love interest to go on this journey and help her in finding out who she is. What's important is that she is her own person," she says.

Speaking to regional media at a press conference yesterday, the 15-year-old adds that she is single. 

"In Hawaii, when you wear a flower on the right side, it means that you are not married and have no boyfriend," she says with a laugh as she points to the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid - Singapore's national flower - tucked behind her right ear. 

In the animated film set in the fictional South Pacific island of Motonui, Moana, who is the tribal chief's daughter, sets off on a mission across the oceans in search of a faraway island with powers that can help save her family and land from destruction. Along the way, she befriends demigod Maui - voiced by Dwayne Johnson.

But Cravalho is not immune to the charms of men. At the mention of Johnson, she starts gushing. 

"Dwayne is so cool. He's really, really nice too. Not that I thought that he would be mean, but he's had so much success and can still be so sweet and wonderful. I mean, he gave me flowers."

The unknown actress was reportedly cast after she submitted a video tape of mash-up songs for a separate non-profit event, which was administered by a Disney casting director. She was then whisked off to Los Angeles for more tests before landing her part.

She says: "I knew there were auditions for Moana, but I didn't initially do it because I doubted myself. I never thought I would get it.

"Then, this happened and it just shows that dreams can come true. Moana finds herself in the film and the past year has also been a huge journey for me to learn and grow as a person."

But the best thing about being a part of the film Moana, she says, is the fact that the film talks about Polynesian culture. 

"I am of Polynesian descent, so this film is close to my heart. It's inspired by our wonderful culture, talking about how navigators go about wayfinding by the stars and that's what my ancestors did too.

"I'm so incredibly proud of this film and I can't wait for everyone to see it."

•Moana opens in cinemas on Nov 24. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'Disney princess without a prince'. Print Edition | Subscribe