Filipino American woman shares her Moana audition story and how the studio basically ghosted her before offering her a new opportunity: ‘That’s a flex I love it’
Kait Obien (@kait_obien), a Filipino American “creative millennial” based in New York City, opened up about her alleged experience as “one of the final voices” being considered for the titular role in Moana back in 2015.
“So this was crazy. I did an open call, I sent in a tape, and then I got a personal phone call from one of the producers asking me to come in,” she claims. “I read a few scenes for them that they gave me on the spot, and I was able to ask questions, and it was really cool, like, the first scenes of Moana.“
While Kait alleges that nothing she read actually made it to the screen, the original script was “really cultural and really beautiful.” And after going into the studio a few more times to continue the auditioning process, Kait claims “it was, like, radio silent for about a month or so.”
Based on where she claims to have stopped in the process, it’s likely that she was in the “second stage” of casting, per former Disney casting director and member of Casting Society of America Jamie Sparer Roberts‘ explanation of how it worked for them. Roberts was actually involved in the casting of Moana.
“At Disney, casting gets involved in projects when they are very early in development. Historically, we cast the project three times,” Roberts told Marci Liroff for Backstage. “The first time is in the form of a table read prior to the greenlight. The second time is during the storyboarding process, where actors’ voices are used for internal development of the film prior to production. Finally, we cast the actual voices for the production dialogue; these are the actors who end up in the theatrical release.”
“We’ve found that hiring actors whose performances are grounded and not over-the-top or cartoony helps us move toward the type of deeper storytelling that we are known for,” Roberts added.
“I remember being in one of my American Sign Language classes, and my cousin had sent me an article about them finding the voice of Moana,” Kait reveals. In the 2016 film, Moana was voiced by then-newcomer 14-year-old Auli’i Cravalho. “So I stepped out of class, and I read the article. I remember it saying that they flew to Hawaii. They saw this girl singing and playing ukulele out on the beach, and then they offered her the role.”
“And that was, like, low-key scarring.”
This news was pretty devastating for Kait — considering she was given no prior warning.
“Now, I know that’s not fully the vibe of what happened, but yeah, they never told me and the other final girls who they chose,” she claims. “And that was, like, low-key scarring. Like, I was like, ‘What?’ Like, I was so confused.”
Thankfully, an unexpected opportunity was waiting for Kait.
“Fast-forward to a few years later, Disney On Ice called me and asked if I would be the voice of Moana for the show,” she shares. “So if you’ve ever seen the ads for, like, Disney Dare to Dream or like, you see Moana skating around, I am the voice of that Moana.”
Kait’s video has especially resonated with people who are also in the film and television industry, namely the point she brings up about never hearing back.
“Beginning actor here, it’s sad but completely normal to NEVER hear back unless you get the role,” @kate.cant.read wrote.
“yup… my sister auditioned for lilo and stitch. got to the top three. never heard back from them. found out someone else was casted,” @miafaithe claimed.
“That’s a flex I love it,” @masonsilva8 replied.
“Thats how all jobs are, sadly,” @delicatedee23 said, to which Kait responded, “Totally. I think when it comes to a close possibility of becoming a Disney Princess it hits different fs!”
Voicing Moana for Disney On Ice? Now, that’s definitely something to be proud of.
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