Quvenzhané Wallis
Source: Josh Brasted/WireImage

Breaking New Ground: Quvenzhané Wallis in Young Hollywood


Nov. 10 2023, Published 10:05 a.m. ET

As the youngest actress to ever receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (at the age of 9), Quvenzhané Wallis is a highly talented actress and author from the state of Louisiana. She received the nomination for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, where she played Hushpuppy in the critically acclaimed 2012 film.

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Since then, she has appeared in a variety of popular films, including Annie (in 2014) and 12 Years a Slave in 2013. The young actress has also created a series of children’s books – the first of which is A Night Out with Mama.

Continue reading to find out more about Wallis and her trailblazing path in the entertainment industry.

Film Roles

Quvenzhané has had star performances in a variety of films including:

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Beasts of the Southern Wild

It was reported that the director of the film, Behn Zeitlin, was looking for a young actor between the ages of 6 and 9 for the role, and even though she was younger (around 5 at the time), Quvenzhané was able to try out for the role with her mother’s blessing.

After auditioning more than 4,000 talented kids, Quvenzhané emerged as the top candidate for the part. According to MTV News, Behn thought that the young actress was perfect for the role, and even went as far as to make a few adjustments to make sure that it suited Quvenzhané’s age and skill-set.

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Best Actress in a Leading Role. According to the Westside Gazette, she was the youngest Black actor to be nominated for an Oscar.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Behn said that the film – which follows the life of a young girl living in the swamplands of Louisiana – was about, “this moral girl who believes in right and wrong so strongly.”

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In the Sony Pictures recreation of Annie –the classic Broadway musical – Quvenzhané played the role of Annie Stacks. When the film hit theaters, the young rising star set another record by being the first Black kid to play the lead role in the big-screen adaptation of the musical.

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Children’s Books Author

Quvenzhané, an avid reader, became an author at the age of 14, after publishing her children’s books. The fast-rising performer said that she drew inspiration from her experiences in the world of entertainment when coming up with the main ideas for the books.

A Night Out with Mama is a picture book documenting her experience at the Oscars. In her other book, Shai & Emmie Star in Break an Egg, the actress documents the experiences of two best friends attending a performing arts school. To make sure that everything was on point, Quvenzhané worked on these projects with co-author Nancy Ohlin. According to Wallis’ mother, Nancy helped, “fine-tune her [Wallis] thoughts and put it together.”

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The Face of Armani Junior

Quvenzhané Wallis was also chosen to be the Armani Junior ambassador back in 2014. Another record under her belt, she became the first Black child to be picked as the face of a major fashion brand.

Another day, another record for Quvenzhané.

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