9-year-old is Oscars Best Actress nominee

By Niccolas Gadsden

Sunday’s Academy Awards show will be historic. All eyes are on Best Actress nominee, Quvenzhané Wallis. This 9-year old is the youngest actress in history to be nominated in this category.

Wallis, nominated for her starring role as Hushpuppy in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” will be making her first appearance ever on the show’s red carpet after the making of her film debut.

The plot of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” revolves around the relationship of Hushpuppy and her father, Wink, who is ill. The two live in a small Louisiana bayou town, which is cut from rest of the state by a levee. A storm is approaching the town and the residents prepare for its approach. Wink prepares Hushpuppy for both the storm and his death by teaching her how to be a survivalist.

“It was very unique, said Professor Eleanor Earl of the cinema studies curriculum in the Hampton University English department. “I think it was an excellent exercise in visual storytelling, which is what filmmaking is all about.”

In an interview with CBS News, Wallis said she was one of 4,000 girls to audition for the role. She auditioned in her hometown of Houma, La., at age 5, and was the youngest to audition. Acting as a crew member’s mother, she showed great personality, winning over director Benh Zeitlin. Wallis said that at that time she was only able to read at a certain level, but Zeitlin was able to re-write the script to make it fit around Wallis’ personality.

Professor Jamantha Watson of the Fine and Performing Arts department said, “She is delightful to look at. Her energy is where it’s supposed to be, and I really look forward to seeing what happens on Sunday.”

If Wallis wins the award not only will this make her the youngest ever to win for Best Actress, but also the youngest to win an Academy Award, beating out actress Tatum O’Neal, who won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1973 film “Paper Moon” at age 10.

Also it will make her the second African-American to win for Best Actress behind Halle Berry, who won in 2001.

Wallis was not the only one to make an acting debut in this film. Dwight Henry, who plays Wink, did not have any acting experience prior to this film, still the L.A. Film Critics Association named him Best Supporting Actor.

Henry owns a bakery in New Orleans, and had no plans of acting until some of the film’s crew members convinced him to audition for the film. After convincing the director and producers that this role was right for him he had to convince Wallis, whom he bribed with sweets from his bakery, Henry told interviewer Oprah Winfrey.

Wallis plans to continue acting. She has an upcoming role in the film “12 Years a Slave,” where she will be working alongside actor Brad Pitt.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications

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