Aussie teen Catherine Laga’aia to star in lead role in upcoming Moana live-action film

The perfect casting.
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Disney’s blockbuster animation Moana is being transformed into a highly-anticipated live-action version later this year, and the key cast members have just been announced.

Portraying the title character is none other than 17-year-old Catherine Laga’aia, the daughter of Play School’s Jay Laga’aia.

Disney announced the news on 13 June. (Image: Disney)

Catherine will star as Moana alongside Dwayne Johnson who will be reprising his role as the demigod Maui.

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favourites,” the Australian teen said.

“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 honoured to have an opportunity to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island peoples, and to represent young girls who look like me.”

Catherine’s father Jay expressed his immense pride and joy for his daughter, saying, “My family and I are so pleased to share this news with the rest of the world. My daughter Katie can finally share the news that she will be taking on the role of Moana in the live action Disney movie alongside Dwayne Johnson and Lin Manuel Miranda.”

The young actress has also previously appeared in Australian-original The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart.

The Rock will be reprising his role as Maui. (Image: Getty)

Also joining the Moana live-action cast along Catherine Laga’aia and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be New Zealand actor John Tui (Battleship) who will be portraying Moana’s father, Chief Tui, as well as Frankie Adams (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart) who will be appearing as Moana’s mother, Sina, and Rena Owen (Star Wars: The Bad Batch) who will be playing the role of Moana’s grandmother, Gramma Tala.

The live-action iteration of Moana was first officially announced in April 2023, and filming is set to begin in the coming months.

The film has a targeted release date of 10 July 2026, and will be directed by Thomas Kail whose credits include Hamilton on Broadway, Grease Live and We Were The Lucky Ones.

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The original animated film first hit screens in 2016 and was met with huge success.

As a result of the film’s positive reception, Disney will be releasing a sequel movie in late 2024 which is set to be released in theatres on 27 November.

Moana 2 will follow Moana’s journey “to the far seas of Oceania after receiving an unexpected call from her wayfinding ancestors”.

You can stream the original Moana film on Disney Plus from $13.99/mth. Subscribe now.

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