Quvenzhane Wallis: Buoyed by bow in ‘Beasts’

Youth Impact Report 2012: Bigscreen Kids

Ever since “Beasts of the Southern Wild” debuted to raves and a grand jury prize at January’s Sundance Film Festival, the stage has been set for one of this year’s most unlikely awards contenders: An 8-year-old making her acting debut in a small, borderline-experimental indie from a first-time director.

Quvenzhane Wallis beat roughly 4,000 girls to take on the part of Hushpuppy, an imaginative young girl who overcomes remarkable obstacles when her southern bayou community is hit by a massive storm.

“Quvenzhane walked into the audition room with this indomitable spirit and fierce, sweet morality that I’d never seen before, not in people 10 times her age,” remembers “Beasts” director Benh Zeitlin.

Present in nearly every scene of the film, Wallis helped carry “Beasts” from Sundance sensation to unexpected summer box-office breakout, grossing more than five times its $1.8 million budget.

“Even long after shooting the film, when I’m about to make a choice, I think, ‘What would Quvenzhane do,’ ‘What would Hushpuppy do,’ and that usually points me the right way,” Zeitlin says.

As for Wallis herself, she’s been enjoying the ride that’s come with the film’s success, which included a seat on the couch of “The Tonight Show” and an appearance on “Oprah.”

“I’ve loved everything,” she gushes. “I couldn’t choose a favorite part. It’s all been great.”

And the attention is still building. Distributor Fox Searchlight will be pushing Wallis for best actress, where she could become the youngest nominee ever in that category.

Impact: The 8-year-old thesp carries the show in the Sundance-winning “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
Next: Wallis would like to continue acting, but is focusing on school first.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety