Live-Action “Moana” Casts Catherine Laga'aia in Title Role: 'Honored' to 'Represent Young Girls Who Look Like Me'

The 17-year-old is joined by Dwayne Johnson as Maui, plus John Tui as Moana's father Chief Tui, Frankie Adams as her mom Sina and Rena Owen as Gramma Tala

<p>Alexei Hay; Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Catherine Laga

Alexei Hay; Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock

Catherine Laga'aia; Disney's animated Moana

Catherine Laga'aia is Moana!

The 17-year-old newcomer and native of Sydney, Australia, has been cast as the titular princess of Motunui in Disney's upcoming live-action version of the 2016 animated movie Moana.

"I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites," Catherine said, in a release obtained by PEOPLE. "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," she added.

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<p>Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> <em>Moana</em> (2016)


Moana (2016)

Related: Dwayne Johnson Reveals Release Date for Live-Action ‘Moana’: ‘Humbled and Excited’

While it was previously revealed that Dwayne Johnson will reprise his role of Maui in the live-action version, more newly announced cast members include John Tui as Moana's father Chief Tui, Frankie Adams as her mother Sina and Rena Owen as the teen's Gramma Tala.

"I am thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie and John through this casting process," director Thomas Kail said in the release. "I am humbled by this opportunity, and I cannot wait to all be on set together. And there’s no better pair to be in a canoe with than Catherine and Dwayne — actually, trio: Heihei is ready, too.”

Catherine's father, actor and singer Jay Laga'aia, seemingly celebrated his daughter's big news on Instagram last month alongside a family photo collage.

"Today my darling daughter Katie leaves for a huge adventure," he wrote. "She will be gone for the rest of the year and on this leg her mother and younger sister will accompany her."

He added, "You travel with the teachings of your parents and the love of your family and friends. Have fun and look after your mum. Dad xxx."

Related: Moana 2 Trailer Breaks a Disney Record for Most Views in First 24 Hours, Beats Inside Out 2 and Frozen 2

While the live-action Moana won't be released for a couple of years, fans of the original won't have to wait long for more adventures, as the animated Moana 2 is out later this year.

"Three years since her first voyage, Moana is on an expansive journey in search of people beyond the shores of Motunui," reads a synopsis of the sequel. "Joined by Maui and a brand-new crew of unlikely seafarers, Moana must journey to the far seas of Oceania and into dangerous, long-lost waters for an adventure unlike anything she’s ever faced."

Johnson, 52, will voice Maui once more, while original voice actress Auli’i Cravalho confirmed on Instagram in February that she was returning as Moana in the sequel. The 23-year-old actress will also serve as an executive producer on the upcoming live-action film.

Moana 2 splashes into theaters Nov. 27, while the live-action Moana film is slated for theatrical release on July 10, 2026.

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