Catherine Laga‘aia: “I’m honored to have an opportunity to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island peoples.”

Catherine Laga‘aia has been tapped as the lead in Disney’s upcoming live action “Moana.” Dwayne Johnson, who voiced the larger-than-life demigod in the 2016 animated version of the film, will reprise his role.

A film inspired in part by oral histories of the people and cultures of Oceania, “Moana” is about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people and her island.

Catherine Laga‘aia

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” says Laga‘aia, a 17-year-old Australian native. “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.”

Rena Owen will play Gramma Tala – photo by Manfred Baumann

The cast also includes Auckland, New Zealander John Tui as Moana’s father, Chief Tui; Samoan-New Zealand actress Frankie Adams portrays Moana’s playful and strong-willed mother, Sina; and Rena Owen, who hails from Bay of Islands, NZ, will play Gramma Tala.

Dwayne Johnson

Scheduled for a July 2026 theatrical release, “Moana” is directed by Thomas Kail, who helmed “Hamilton” on Broadway and Disney+, “Grease Live.”

John Tui plays Moana’s father

Executive producers include Scott Sheldon of FlynnPictureCo., Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the 2016 film, and Charles Newirth.

By Samantha Ofole-Prince / Photos courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

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