The entertainment world was quite a bit shocked to learn that Quvenzhané Wallis (pronounced Kwe-VEN-zhah-nay, for those water-cooler discussions) was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in the indie hit Beasts of the Southern Wild, making her the youngest female to ever receive that honor (beating out former champ Keisha Castle-Hughes for Whale Rider). Her turn as a young girl struggling to remain tough and fearless in a frightening world on the verge of collapse is remarkable, especially when you learn she was barely six years old when the movie filmed.
Get to know her a little more by watching this beautiful behind-the-scenes featurette on the actress from Fox Searchlight.
My audition turned out to be at the library and my Mom got a call from one of her friends and it was for a six-to-nine-year-old. So my Mom said I couldn't go 'cause I was only five. But we just went and we act like we're having nothin' to do; we had done nothin' wrong. And we just sneaked in because I was like one year younger so we just sneaked in and we walked out like we ain't done nothin'. So they called back and they said they were looking for Nazie. My Mom says, 'Oh, you must be looking for Quvenzhané.' They were like, no, we must have called the wrong person and they almost hung up, but my Mom caught them. And she goes, 'She must have told you Nazie,' and they were like, 'Yes, that's who we're looking for.' And that's Quvenzhané. And they only have found me because the character who is Hushpuppy, she does what is right and she is fearless and that's what I did at the audition. -- Quvenzhané Wallis
From my review of Beasts of the Southern Wild, where I called it this year's greatest discovery: "Most of the film is set on water, in and around shacks, filmed in the very locations its characters are supposed to live. This wasn't a movie shot on a lot in Los Angeles; it was a passion project years in the making, utilizing all local nonactors to add a level of authenticity you rarely see in any movie. Writer-director Benh Zeitlin said he wanted his crew to experience what the characters were experiencing, which is why they wrote the script and shot the film on the same swampy land where it's set. If the characters were in water, they were in water. If they were up to their knees in mud, the crew was up to their knees in mud. This wasn't just a group of people making a film, it was a group of people trying to make sense of the cards they were dealt by turning them into a spiritual and emotional art piece about love, loss, hope and forgiveness."
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