1 of 5 | Manny Jacinto and Auli'i Cravalho voice characters in the new animated series "Hailey's On It." Image courtesy of Disney
NEW YORK, June 8 (UPI) -- Auliʻi Cravalho says the character she plays in the new Disney animated series, Hailey's On It, shares some important similarities with the iconic heroine she voiced in 2016's Moana.
"I truly enjoyed both Moana, who started my career, and now Hailey Banks, who I feel shares some of those qualities of being brave and speaking her mind and taking risks," Cravalho told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
"I'm grateful to play these characters and I think that they teach me how to work in those same character traits in my own life."
The show follows Hailey, a 14-year-old with a long list of actions she wishes she had the nerve to do.
"She's always been a little fearful to complete things like get a major haircut, play the glockenspiel, kiss her best friend, Scott," Cravalho said.
But her life changes drastically when a scientist from the future arrives and insists she needs to finish every single thing on the list to save the world.
"Thus, begins our series and begins this fantastic journey of believing in yourself, taking those risks and realizing that, no matter how far-fetched or impossible those dreams are, they actually are pretty tangible if we take the right steps to complete them," Cravalho said.
This is an excellent message to impart to young viewers, the actress said.
"Hailey Banks inspires me," she said. "It is so important to see a young person of color tackle these seemingly impossible and goofy and silly tasks."
The character also has the support of Scott, played by Manny Jacinto, and her loving parents, played by Julie Bowen and Cooper Andrews, who are good sports when mixed up in her extraordinary adventures.
"We have a diverse cast on and off the screen, including our writers' room. I think it is really cleverly written," Cravalho said.
"There's also sci-fi elements that are really fun and cerebral, and then we also have musicals and fantastic pop and jazz and R&B songs that take it the rest of the way. With animation, I feel like there is no limit."
Cravalho said she has her own bucket list she intends to complete.
"I want to adopt more cats. I want to go to college -- big and small things," she said, noting checking items off a roster makes people feel like they are their best selves, even if they try something and fail at it. "Hailey is a wonderful role model for that.
She said she thinks the fun she and Jacinto had recording their lines together comes through in the positive relationship their characters have on the show.
"Having a best friend who knows your heart and knows your brain and pushes you to do the things that you might be a little fearful of doing? That is a best friend and also a friend who holds you accountable, which, for Hailey, Scott definitely does," she said.
The actress, who was wearing a T-shirt and denim overalls for the interview as a nod to how Hailey dresses on the show, said her character's fashion choices always make her smile.
"I love that she is practically dressed. She is wearing smart shoes that she can run in and kick some chaos butt in, as well. I love her glasses," she said.
"I think she is absolutely beautiful. I love that she is a person of color. Also, throughout our series it is established that she is API, Pacific Islander descent and I've sprinkled some Hawaiian words in there so it feels really good to see that representation on screen."
Cravalho, who is 22, announced last month that she will not be reprising her role in the live-action version of Moana alongside her former vocal co-star, Dwayne Johnson.
She will, however, serve as an executive producer on the upcoming movie.
"It really warms my heart that I get to see Moana continue to live on, and I'm really excited about who will be playing her," Cravalho said. "I think it's a beautiful story."
She's learning a lot about the entertainment industry from the other side of the camera, too.
"I have never had my email inbox flooded more than I do now and it hasn't even really begin yet," she said.
"I'm taking a big breath, but in the same that when I was cast as Moana [in the cartoon] it absolutely changed my life and started my career, I also feel like this is kind of in that sense and I am grateful to be in those rooms of power where I get to make some of the decisions. I do see it as the next step."
New episodes of Hailey's On It air weekly on Disney Channel Thursdays and Disney+ Fridays.
Cravalho will also soon be seen on screen in the movie musical Mean Girls.