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Catherine Laga‘aia Will Set Sail In Disney’s Live-Action “Moana”

Disney has officially announced that 17-year-old Catherine Laga‘aia from Sydney, Australia, will star as Moana in the studio’s highly anticipated live-action adaptation of the beloved 2016 animated film. In her role, Laga‘aia will portray the adventurous teenager who sets sail on a daring mission to save her people, echoing the animated character’s inspiring journey.

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” Laga‘aia shared. “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.”

Joining Laga‘aia in the cast are Auckland native John Tui as Moana’s no-nonsense father, Chief Tui; Samoan-New Zealand actress Frankie Adams as Moana’s playful and strong-willed mother, Sina; and Rena Owen from Bay of Islands, New Zealand, as the revered Gramma Tala. Dwayne Johnson, who voiced the larger-than-life demigod Maui in the original animated film, will reprise his role, much to the delight of fans.

Directed by Thomas Kail, known for his work on “Hamilton” and “Grease Live,” the film is slated for release in theaters on July 10, 2026. Kail expressed his enthusiasm about the project, stating, “I am thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie, and John through this casting process. 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.”

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The live-action “Moana” aims to bring to life the story of a young woman eager to pave her own path, celebrating the islands, communities, and traditions of Pacific Islanders through a spectacular adventure. Filming is set to begin this summer, with the project produced by Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Hiram Garcia via their Seven Bucks Productions, and Beau Flynn via FlynnPictureCo. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who composed the original songs, will also serve as a producer.

Executive producers include Scott Sheldon of FlynnPictureCo., Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the animated version, and Charles Newirth. The screenplay is crafted by Jared Bush, who wrote the original 2016 film, and Dana Ledoux Miller, a Samoan writer known for Netflix’s “Thai Cave Rescue” and a co-founder of the non-profit Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti (PEAK).

Disney’s live-action “Moana” looks to be a vibrant celebration of Pacific Islander culture and heritage, brought to life with a fresh perspective and an inspiring new cast.

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