Moana: Disney’s Newest Groundbreaking Female Protagonist

“If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go…“

By: Alicia Christine


Is anyone really surprised that “How Far I’ll Go” received the Oscar nomination for Best Original Song? Or that Moana was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film?  Well, I’m not. I saw Moana twice in the movie theater and I am looking forward to purchasing it on DVD/Blu-Ray. When I watched the movie and whenever I revisit the soundtrack, I get really excited to introduce Moana to my nieces. There’s so much girl power in this movie and I love it!! Let me tell you just a few things about Moana that I’m excited about (because I could go on and on and on, many of the ClashCultures writers can attest to that):

Moana is….


Loving. There’s no romantic love interest in Moana. Not even a whiff of it. It’s simply not on the table. I’m so excited about that. However, there’s plenty of familial and platonic love in the movie. Moana has a beautiful relationship with her grandmother and forms a fun and sincerely supportive relationship with Muai. Just because Moana isn’t starstruck by some dude doesn’t mean that she isn’t capable of love or that she doesn’t have any love in her life.

Capable. We’ve all seen Disney Princess films. The female protagonist is being forced into something that she doesn’t want to do and she fights against it, and in doing so, finds herself. Right? Moana’s storyline is similar but is different in a very noticeable, exciting way. Moana is expected to be the next chief of the village.* Her father says that it suits her. He’s not blind. It does suit her. She exercises some of her responsibilities and she is already a strong and capable leader. The reason that Moana leaves the village is not because she wouldn’t be a good chief. The whole reason why she leaves the village for this mission is to save her village, which I think is the mark of an incredible leader. I love that Moana is talented and capable in more than one way.

Flawed. Moana is confident, determined, kind and gifted. Does that mean she never doubts herself? No. Does that mean that she always makes the right choices? No. Moana has a few moments in the film where we see that she is flawed person. She admits to her failings, apologizes, and allows others to lift her up and push her forward.

Loyal. Moana doesn’t just “find herself” and go off voyaging on her own for the rest of her life. She comes back to the village to lead their voyages. She uses her gifts to continue the tradition of voyaging that is integral to her heritage. She doesn’t keep her identity to herself. She shares it with those around her.


I have 5 nieces and 4 of them haven’t seen Moana (I know, I’m slacking). I can’t wait to show the movie to them and to point out all the ways that Moana is a great character. I hope that in the same way that I was encouraged by Belle, Jasmine and Mulan that my little nieces will be encouraged by Moana.

Congratulations to the creative team of Moana for your Oscar nominations! Man, oh man, do you deserve them.


*It should be noted that females are not chiefs in Polynesian culture. While Moana being chief is amazing for female representation and I am all here for it, this seems like a good time to address the fact that there were aspects of Moana that were culturally inaccurate or appropriated. While I find this film incredibly progressive for Disney, I recognize there’s still room for improvement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s