What’s the way into Quvenzhané Wallis‘ good graces? Sweets. Lots of sweets.
The breakout star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” worked with director Benh Zeitlin to choose who would play the role of her dad in the movie, and sweets just may have swayed her decision.
“They had two other men before [actor Dwight Henry] and we played together and we tried to do a few scenes together and just couldn’t fit together with them. … [Dwight] came … with two bags with a big smile, put them on the table and gave them to me. I opened up the bag… and all I see is donuts, brownies, cupcakes. I turn around and I was just like this,” she said today on “Good Morning America,” breaking out into a huge, contagious smile.
If she hasn’t melted your heart already, meet Quvenzhané Wallis, the youngest best actress nominee in Oscar history. The serious honor has not fazed the outspoken 9-year-old, who was sound asleep and had to have her mom wake her up to tell her she’d received a coveted Oscar nod.
“I was half asleep because it was 5:45 in the morning. She wakes me up tells me I’m nominated, [I'm half-asleep, nothing is reacting, [I'm] watching the name just scroll on the screen, nothing reacting. But on the inside I was doing flips that I could never do before.”
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At age 5, Wallis auditioned for the part of Hushpuppy, her very first acting job, and beat out thousands of other actresses. At the time, she technically wasn’t even old enough to audition, but the spunky girl managed to score the part.
“My mom’s friend called and said that they had an audition for 6 to 9-year-olds and I was only five and my mom was like, ‘She’s not old enough. She’s one age under.’ And my mom’s friend said, ‘I think she can handle it,’” Wallis explained today. (She was 6 when they started filming).
Without a mother and with a desperately ill dad, Wallis’ character Hushpuppy finds her way in the squalor and chaos of the defiant Louisiana bayou community known as the bathtubs before a fierce storm of epic proportions arrives. The performance has earned her the best actress Oscar nomination as well as more than a dozen festival and critics’ awards. (Remember at the Critics Choice Awards when she read her acceptance speech off her iPhone?)
She also paid a visit to the White House for a special screening of the film for students in honor of Black History month, where the first lady Michelle Obama said she believed in the indie flick.
Wallis is the first to admit she enjoys being in the spotlight.
“It’s been awesome, I love it,” she said.
When asked if she wanted to be an actress when she grows up, her answer even made “GMA” anchor George Stephanopoulos crack up. “Of course, it’s something fun and I get to come on ‘Good Morning America‘ and stuff like that.”