Auli‘i Cravalho on New Animated Disney Series Hailey’s On It!
Hawai‘i’s own Auli‘i Cravalho talks about her new Disney show, tips on navigating childhood and what’s on her bucket list.
We all know Auli‘i Cravalho from back when she jumpstarted her career as the voice of Moana. Now, the local girl stars in a new Disney show that promotes positive social behavior. Through her character, Hailey Alohilani Banks, she further proves that in her real life, much like the characters she has played, she has a courageous spirit and stays true to her authentic self.
The animated series Hailey’s On It!, which premiered this past June, follows a half-Hawaiian, risk-averse teenage girl. After an interesting turn of events, Hailey realizes she has to overcome her fears to complete challenging and impractical tasks in order to save the planet.
We caught up with Auli‘i Cravalho about the show, her childhood in Hawai‘i, her goals and her advice for being confident in who you are.
What was your school experience like?
When I was in elementary school, they placed me at one of those desks with three walls so I wouldn’t talk to my classmates. But I found ways around those. Haha! In high school, I attended Kamehameha Schools’ Kapālama campus, and I enjoyed all the water sports: swimming, water polo, junior varsity paddling and diving. Oh, and concert glee!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I enjoyed singing and acting as extracurriculars but never expected to make a career out of it. I wanted to go into a science field of some sort, either marine biology or environmental science. I still hope to study the field in college.
What is one thing you want kids to know about navigating childhood/teenage years?
Try every sport and indulge in every hobby. You don’t have to be great at any of them, but you might find even just one person you connect to from the experience. Friends that you continue to grow with are priceless, but if and when you realize it’s time for your separate paths, wish them well and keep doing your thing.
Hailey’s on a mission to complete every item on her long list of tasks in order to save the world—what are some things you’re doing to try and save the world?
I’m trying to educate myself on climate change and politics. It’s tough work, the jargon is confusing and staying up to date on current events can be exhausting, mentally and emotionally. Despite the challenges, I truly believe it’s honest conversations that will help us reverse the clock of our dying earth.
The show demonstrates how Hailey conquers some of her fears—do you have any advice for keiki to help them conquer their fears?
It’s OK to be scared or fearful or anxious! I often feel these emotions myself. Visualizing yourself completing the task can help [you] overcome the fear of taking that first step. Another technique that I’ve just learned is visualizing what the WORST outcome would be. For example: forgetting my lines on stage … and what happens after that? Usually there’s a practical answer: The show goes on. You’ll learn more from trying and failing than you will from stepping back and playing it safe.
What do you hope people will take away from the show?
I hope people take away the power we have in completing our own personal bucket lists. A few items on my bucket list are: Adopt three to five more cats, be in a Marvel movie and go to college. Hailey Banks’ lists includes: Learn to play the glockenspiel and dye her hair bright neon. Whether big or small, if you have the right attitude, you can do anything!
Who are some of your role models?
A few of my role models are Malala [Yousafzai], Michelle Obama, Viola Davis, Greta Thunberg and Jennifer Lee.
What are you most proud of thus far?
I’m proud to be working in film and transitioning into some behind-the-camera capacities, like writing and executive producing. It’s a uniquely difficult industry that continues to surprise and challenge me. I’m grateful to be a part of it, and to be changing it from the inside to include more young women of color—like me!
What are some of your personal goals?
I hope to separate some of my self-worth from my job, which is difficult having worked so hard at cultivating my career from a young age. It’s kind of all I know. I’m also hoping to go on road trips with my cat, Rocco.
When you come back to Hawai‘i, what do you have to do, eat and/or see?
Seeing my family on both O‘ahu and Big Island is a must! Foodland for poke and fried chicken is usually my first stop after stepping off the plane. And after that, I really try not to have any plans. The more time I get to spend with the ‘ohana, and being on island time, the better.