Catherine Laga'aia opposite Moana in the animated film 'Moana'
(Alexei Hay / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Disney Has Found Its Live-Action Moana

In addition to an animated sequel, Disney is developing a live-action version of Moana—and the studio has finally announced the young actor taking over for Auli’i Cravalho.

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Disney has officially cast Catherine Laga’aia as Moana in the new live-action film, which is being directed by Thomas Kail, best known for both the Broadway and Disney+ versions of Hamilton. Laga’aia is a relative newcomer who previously appeared in the Prime Video series The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, opposite Sigourney Weaver.

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” said Laga’aia, a 17-year-old actress from Sydney, Australia. “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.”

In addition to Laga’aia, Disney has cast New Zealander John Tui (Young Rock) as Moana’s dad, Chief Tui; Samoan-New Zealand actress Frankie Adams (Next Goal Wins) as Moana’s mom, Sina; and Rena Owen (The Orville) from Bay of Islands, New Zealand as Gramma Tala. Dwayne Johnson is reprising his role as Maui, a demigod and Moana’s powerful ally.

Disney’s live-action Moana is hitting theaters on July 10, 2026.

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Britt Hayes
Britt Hayes (she/her) is an editor, writer, and recovering film critic with over a decade of experience. She has written for The A.V. Club, Birth.Movies.Death, and The Austin Chronicle, and is the former associate editor for ScreenCrush. Britt's work has also been published in Fangoria, TV Guide, and SXSWorld Magazine. She loves film, horror, exhaustively analyzing a theme, and casually dissociating. Her brain is a cursed tomb of pop culture knowledge.