Meet Maia Kealoha, Who Plays Lilo in the Live-Action Lilo & Stitch (Exclusive)

Maia Kealoha is ready to make a splash in Hollywood at just 7 years old

Published Time: 05.06.2024 - 09:31:04 Modified Time: 05.06.2024 - 09:31:04

Maia Kealoha is ready to make a splash in Hollywood at just 7 years old.

The native Hawaiian portrays Lilo in Disney's upcoming live-action version of the popular 2002 animated film Lilo & Stitch. Kealoha was announced as the lead in March 2023 after a nationwide search.

Zach Galifianakis, Sydney Elizabeth Agudong and Kahiau Machado are also part of the cast.

She recently made her major red carpet debut at the Gold Gala on May 11, the annual event celebrating Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander excellence in entertainment, the arts, business, culture and more.

The actress was the youngest attendee and presenter, honoring first responders who fought the devastating Maui wildfires with Gold House's Social Impact award. She was joined on stage by another Disney star, Moana's Auli’i Cravahlo, and Krystal Ka’ai, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on AANHPIs.

Before she hit the stage, PEOPLE caught up with the rising star, who shared what it was like learning she was cast in a Disney film.

"When I found out I was going to be Lilo, my jaw literally dropped and I couldn't even believe it," Kealoha recalled. "I rung my dad and I said, 'I did it! I'm Lilo! I'm Lilo.' A -

nd then they grabbed me and we jumped up and down. I was so excited!"

When asked how she's similar to her on-screen character, she responded, "I would say we really love grass." Lilo wears a grass hulu skirt in the film.

"In terms of our rooms, she has a lot of toys in her room and I don't really have toys," she added. "I would say I'm a crafty girl."

As for her favorite outfit from the movie, Kealoha said she loved the bathing suit with a pineapple on it. For the gala itself, the young actress wore a creation by Hawaiian designer — and Project Runway alum — Kini Zamora.

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Kealoha, whose background in hula helped her land the coveted role, also showed off more modern dance moves as the first person to hit the afterparty at the gala, which kicked off after 10pm!

But it was no problem for the Hawaiian native, who was clearly on island time!

You can see Kealoha embark on a Hawaiian roller coaster ride when Lilo & Stitch hits Disney+ soon.

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