Quvenzhane Wallis is an anomaly. At only 11 years old, she has already reached a level of success most adults still dream of. Even though her career started on the basis of a fib (that she was indeed six years old, the age minimum for Beasts of the Southern Wild auditions), it’s fair to say that it was a necessary evil. It was that audition that launched her into instant stardom, a talent the public, and the academy, couldn’t help but take notice of. The role made Quvenzhane the youngest ever nominee for Best Actress. It was her first professional acting job.
She followed up the success with the epic, 12 Years a Slave and hasn’t stopped working since. The starlet has four upcoming films, the most anticipated of all being Annie, which will have her making history yet again, this time as the first black girl to star in the beloved tale.
How does Quvenzhane manage her success? A balance of discipline and fun, of course – she explained to Times Magazine.
When it comes to work, she’s hard at it. “I work with my acting coach to help me get into character and do pronunciation drills and tongue twisters to help me deliver lines… I envision the script as a story in my mind, memorize the entire thing and have it play out. It helps me figure out where my character needs to go.”
But it can’t be all work. “You have to be serious, but you also have to make your own time to have fun,” she explained. For her, that means telling jokes and goofing around with the director between shooting.
Taking on such serious roles is also quite demanding, so having a little bag of tricks helps – especially when it comes time to cry on cue. “I think of very sad things, mostly about animals.” The young star went on, “My favorite animal is a polar bear. They’re going extinct, and I really don’t want that to happen.”
Preparing for her role as Annie also meant adding singing and dancing to her roster of special talents.
Clearly, the sky is the limit for this sixth grader.