Quvenzhane Wallis has taken the spotlight for her critically acclaimed breakout role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” The nine year old is now the youngest Academy Award nominee for Best Actress in a leading role.
Willis beat out former record-holder Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was nominated in the Best Actress category for “Whale Rider” at age 13.
Wallis plays Hushpuppy, a courageous little girl who is determined to uplift and inspire her terminally ill father in the midst of trying defeat a bad storm headed their way.
She will be up against Jessica Chastain for “Zero Dark Thirty,” Jennifer Lawrence for “Siver Linings Playbook,” Naomi Watts for “The Impossible” and Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour.” In an interesting twist, Riva, at age 85, is now the oldest nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Wallis, a Louisiana native, has four siblings and is the daughter of Venjie and Qulynderia Wallis. She attends Honduras Elementary School in Houma, Louisiana.
She auditioned for the role when she was five. Producers set the minimum age at six, but her talent was so strong that it beat out all of the older contenders. Nearly 4,000 girls auditioned for the part.
Director Benh Zeitlin told “The Daily Beast” that he actually changed the script to fit Wallis’ personality because she was so talented.
Wallis has been selected for a role in the upcoming movie “Twelve Years a Slave,” which also being shot in Louisiana. The film also stars Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender.