Special thanks to Disney for the magical trip to Los Angeles to cover the World Premiere of Moana and its press events.
When Nicole Scherzinger walked into the room and started talking, it was to interview US! She wanted to know where we all lived and how often we get together, then she marveled at how awesome it was to be in a room full of women. I have to admit, it was pretty freaking great.
It’s just great to be in a room with women, you know. Awesome.
When we were finally able to interview her, we were dying to know how she got to be part of the beautiful movie that is Moana. Unsurprisingly, it had a lot to do with the fact that she is Hawaiian and she wanted to be part of something that accurately portrayed her culture.
Well I didn’t want to be a part of the project. I felt I had to be a part of the project, and that’s because I’m from Hawaiian descent, so I knew that the movie was gonna be about the Polynesian people. And I don’t think Disney ever really did a film like that. I know they touched upon it in Lilo and Stitch, but I know people from my family were like, no, that’s like the fake kind. And I didn’t wanna go back home and hear from family, “How come you’re not in Moana? You ARE Moana, Nicole!”
Yeah, first of all I’m too old, okay? So [I wanted to be involved] because of that, and because it’s the story of our people, where we come from, and I’m just so proud that Disney did right by us, by the Polynesian people, and stayed true to our culture, where we come from, our mana, our power, our people, our lifeline and just told a beautiful story about a young girl.
When directors, Ron and John tried to give her some backstory about how a Polynesian mother acts, she reassured them that she had it together, she lived it, for goodness sake! In her culture, women have a really special place in the family.
It wasn’t a love story, it was a heroine story about a young girl’s journey, which we can all relate to about discovering who we really are and what we’re meant for, what our purpose and our destiny is. That’s a beautiful story, and then I have the honor of playing Moana’s mother, Sina. They were trying to give me the backstory. And I was like, please, I lived this, I lived with my mother and my tutu, which means grandmother in Hawaiian. In our culture, the men are the head of the household but the women are the backbone. They are everything. They are the strength. They keep it together. And in my family, my tutu, her mother had twenty-one births. Or twenty-two births, and then eighteen children that survived, and that’s just from my tutu. And then my mother, she had ten kids and then so on and so on. My tutu already has like seventy-five grandchildren and great grandchildren combined. So we have a really, really big family at home. So I just felt like I have to be a part of this.
Nicole’s family hasn’t seen the movie yet and she can’t wait to go home for Christmas and rent a theater for her enormous family to see the movie. Her mom was a teen mom, which totally gives me hope that Styles can be someone super famous some day, and Nicole was raised by her mom and grandparents. When she was younger, they left Hawaii due to her grandfather’s job in the Marines and she swore when she had the money she would some day move her mom back to Hawaii. She made good on her promise once she had the dollahs to do so.
My mother had me at a very young age. She was pregnant with me when she was seventeen and had me when she was eighteen, and she raised me on her own. And then my tutu and papa -that’s from grandmother and grandfather, they helped raise me as well. And then my mother met my father, which is why I got the last name Scherzinger, it’s my adopted last name. She had to move to the states for my tutu and papa, my papa was in the Marines to help raise me. And then when I said as soon as I grew up and was able to afford it, I would move my mom back home.
So, as soon as I was making some dollars, I moved my mom back home and so my mom and dad are in Hawaii again next to my tutu and papa ‘cause they have to have their kids around them.
Nicole and many people in her culture are so excited that Disney has taken their culture on and chosen to portray it on the big screen all around the world. There are many documentaries and small, independent films that go into more depth about the culture, but to have Disney put it out there is really exciting.
To hear the music and have the spirit and have the beauty of the Islands where you’re from and the real spirit and energy of the Islands. They always say you don’t have to be Hawaiian. You can be Hawaiian at heart, you know. Depicted from Disney is just really special for us.
She got a little carried away during some of the scenes she had to film because you really have to dig deep into your imagination to get it right. The breathing, the emotion, it all has to come from somewhere. This was Nicole’s first time being an animated character so this was a bit of a departure from what she’s used to where performance is concerned.
When you’re [voice] acting, you’re acting to not the other actor or the character, you’re acting with another person giving you the lines, and so you have to just imagine everything. To be so creative in your head. And they show you these like sketched out drawings of your character in the scene. And everything looks like penciled in, right? And you just have to kinda close your eyes and put yourself there and kind of be extra animated. And I thought it was hilarious because they had cameras all throughout the whole recording studio because it makes sense, you know. One time I was recording and I closed my eyes and they’re like, ‘You’ve just seen Moana for the first time. She’s back.’ And I was running, and I was feeling it, and the breath had to be right to emote the right energy. And the hug was like, okay, a soft hug and then a hard hug. I opened my eyes and I felt like wow, we really did something. And I was literally on the opposite end of the room from them. They’re like, ‘Sorry, we didn’t wanna disturb you. You were in it. We didn’t get any of that. You were committed and you were in it.’ It was such a cool experience.
Nicole used experiences she had had in her own life and with her mother to add emotion to Sina’s voice in Moana. There was a scene that required her to take a message that could be very negative and turn it into a positive, and here’s a bit about how she did it:
It was interesting because in the script they had a couple different readings, like different ways they wanted to get the story across, especially the part where she’s trying to explain to her daughter that you can’t go beyond the reef. Trying to explain because, you know, your father’s been there and he’s had a great loss and he’s just trying to protect you. And anything that I do, I think artists do, you draw from personal connection. And I think she says a line, She says, “Moana, sometimes who- who you are or who you want to be, it’s not meant to be.” And I drew from that experience and I drew from my mother.
I know that my mom and my tutu and all the women in my family have sacrificed everything for their children. They’re just, selfless. And it’s not to be like, ‘Hey, I’m selfless’, that’s just who the women in my family are. And when I thought of that line I really thought of my mother and my tutu and how sometimes who you are or who you wish you could be. I’m sure they had their own dreams, and their own aspirations, and I know my mother didn’t mean to have me at such a young age, she fell in love and the guy actually left her.
I was like how do I turn this into a positive? ‘Cause Sina was saying it’s not meant to be. And I felt that it was a bit negative, you know, ‘cause we’re always like, ‘no, you can do it. You can achieve it!’ Which is why she actually lets her go in the end. So it was like how can I make this make sense to me? And it was just kinda like speaking from experience. Sometimes you have to look past yourself.
Like we have made sacrifices for the better. Or what we think is for the better, right? But then I think in the end she does know that she trusts Moana and allows her to go and find her destiny.
And then she made us gush when she talked about how great moms are. I mean, I think my mom is pretty great, and my step mom is pretty great, and I think I’m an alright mom, but that’s just what we do, right? We do what feels right to us, but we never stop being mom. Nicole (who, by the way, is NOT seventy like she says she is in the upcoming quote) has a mom who still mothers her and it’s just what we do, what we all do.
But that’s why moms are so great, right? I’m like seventy years old, and my mom still treats me like I’m little Nicolelosky. She calls me Nicolelosky – ‘What was that in the interview? What are you posting on Instagram? Are you twerking? What are you- what is this twerking?’ I was like Mom, it’s an art. I actually had to learn that, Mom. Great dancers taught me that. I worked on that, Mom.
So that’s what moms do. They they create that structure and they teach you. My mother always told me growing up, Nicole, I just never want you to compromise yourself. But then at the end, you know, they have to just have faith and trust that they raised you the right way. I come from a very spiritual background. My grandfather, my papa, is a Bishop. And so I grew up in the church and everything, so, we just have a strong belief system. So, just to have trust and have faith that you gotta let ‘em go and have wings and do their thing.
Nicole is very grateful for everything she has achieved and every opportunity she has, but she’s still not where she wants to be. She has great aspirations and wants to be a voice
I don’t regret anything, and I’m very grateful for everything. But last year in December I finished my year and I was reflecting and I was like, how do I feel about this year? It’s the first year I never really put music out. What am I doing? Am I gonna make a new album? How can I compete with all these twenty year olds, and everybody’s got the Max Martin singles. What am I doing?
And I really thought about it. And I was like, I’m really tired of people telling me, you know you kinda like, sing everything and that’s very confusing. And you do everything, that’s really confusing for people. And I’m like, why can’t I do my own thing? So I decided last year that I was gonna create my own show, and do my own album that comes out of it. And I don’t wanna talk about it too much, ‘cause I’d rather do it and it’s gonna take a lot of time. But to answer your question, I believe we’re all made for a purpose. A great purpose. And I haven’t got there yet. I came up with this because in interviews people are usually like, ‘Wow, you’ve done so much. You know, what is there left to do?’ And I’m like, that’s funny, because I feel like I’m just scratching at the surface and I’m just using a fraction of my potential.
So I’ve got everything left to do. And, so it’s taking that time, It’s carving that time out now for myself to create what I feel like I was made to create. And I can’t live, I can’t die with this in me. So I have something that I wanna create, a project, and I wanna share- and that will be my legacy that I wanna leave behind. So I’m working on it. And I’m getting there. Obviously God has His own timing. It’s really taken me, a lot.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a former Pussycat Doll when we sat down with her, but I was really impressed with Nicole’s spiritual, introspective outlook on the past and the future. I loved sitting down with her and just shooting the breeze and hearing her talk about how she grew up and what her beliefs are. I almost lost my ish when she told me she loves my hair and she should do something similar (don’t forget where you got the idea, Nicole!) with her hair. Basically, I’m a renewed fan of Nicole Scherzinger. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for her, and what exactly this super secret project is!
I was watching Gwen Stefani on Access Hollywood before this, before I started speaking, they were asking her questions, and they were like, wow, she’s really so open now. And I was like wow, when you really live through stuff and experience life, and experience love, and experience heartache and all those things, you really change as a woman. You really grow as a woman. You grow more confident. You really start to discover who you are. You know, even though Moana is sixteen in the film and is just discovering, I’m sure you guys feel like if we really look deep within, we’re still discovering who we are. Does that make sense? But we’re still like, who am I? What do I really want? I’m worth this. You know, I’ve gotta keep my integrity, my dignity, and this is my self-worth. And I think it’s a constant struggle. That’s what I wanna build this project around, My story. And I feel like all women, and all people, can relate to that inner journey, that struggle and that battle of learning and knowing your own self-worth, as a woman, and going after what you want, and just be happy with yourself. It’s so easy to say, you know, you can’t really be happy with someone until you’re happy with yourself. But how hard is that? I’m very grateful for where I am. You have to look at it and be like, ‘This is what led me to be here, let me run and grow from this. But this is where I really see myself and this is where God made me. So let me get myself on track and focus and get it together, ‘Cause no one else is gonna do it for me.’ I have the vision and I’m going there.
From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess & the Frog) and produced by Osnat Shurer (Lifted, One Man Band), Moana sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.