Daughter of Aussie Icon Lands Lead in Live-Action Moana Alongside Dwayne Johnson


Disney’s beloved animated hit Moana is making a big leap to live-action later this year, and they’ve just dropped the lineup for the main cast.

Playing Moana herself is Catherine Laga’aia, a talented 17-year-old from Australia. You might know her dad, Jay Laga’aia, from Play School.

“I’m incredibly excited to take on the role of Moana, a character I’ve always admired,” Catherine shared alongside the announcement.

Holding her own alongside Dwayne Johnson, who returns as the charismatic demigod Maui, Catherine brings a personal connection to her role: “My grandfather hails from Fa‘aala, Palauli, in Savai‘i, and my grandmother from Leulumoega Tuai on ‘Upolu in Samoa. It’s a true honour to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island cultures, and to represent young girls who share my heritage.”

Her father Jay expressed immense pride, saying, “My family and I are thrilled to share this news with the world. Katie can finally reveal she’s stepping into Moana’s shoes in Disney’s live-action film, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Lin Manuel Miranda.”

Moana Live Action Cast

Catherine’s no stranger to the screen, having appeared in The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. And she’s in good company: New Zealand actor John Tui is playing Moana’s dad, Chief Tui, Frankie Adams is Moana’s mum, Sina, and Rena Owen is Moana’s grandma, Gramma Tala.

Filming kicks off soon for the live-action Moana, which was announced officially in April 2023. Directed by Thomas Kail, who brought us Hamilton and Grease Live, it’s set to hit theatres on July 10, 2026.

The original animated Moana was a smash hit back in 2016, and fans are looking forward to the film’s sequel which is set for release on November 27, 2024. Separate from the live-action Moana, Moana 2 will take us on another epic voyage with Moana, answering the call of her wayfinding ancestors across the vast seas of Oceania.

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