Disney Introduces Its First Polynesian Princess, Moana

hitting screens late next year

Isn’t it nice when big corporations do the right thing?

At its D23 expo yesterday, Disney announced that its next female-centered animated flick, Moana, will star a Polynesian character of the same name. While the company has a clear history of underserving non-white audiences with their “princess” movies, Moana follows in the footsteps of Mulan, Pocahontas, and The Princess and The Frog in chucking their traditional formula.

Though the part of the titular heroine has not been cast, Moana has already picked up the vocal talents of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, an American superstar of Samoan decent—a sign that Disney is on the right track casting-wise. Johnson will play a demigod, Maui, who helps guide the young Moana through “the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania.”

It’s important to note that Disney does not appear to be looking to represent any specific Polynesian culture or group (Oceania is, historically speaking, a new term). Still, it’s a welcome nod to the many of different cultures spread over the South Pacific—cultures that often get short shrift in American popular entertainment.

Helmed by The Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Frog directors Jon Clements and John Musker, Moana is due in theaters in time for Thanksgiving, 2016.

(Via Us Weekly)