As you’ve probably heard by now, 9-year-old Louisiana native (and effortlessly adorable charmer) Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Here, are nine things to know about the talented tike.
1) Her first name, Quvenzhané, is pronounced Kwuh-VIN-juh-nay.
It’s a combination of her parents’ first names (Qulyndreia and Venjie) and the Swahili word “zhané,” which means “fairy.” Too much of a mouthful? You can always call her “Nazie” (pronounced NAY-zy).
2) She was too young to audition.
She and her mother kept mum about her age when she auditioned for the role of Hushpuppy. Casting directors were looking for a 6 to 9-year-old, and Nazie was just 5 when she knocked their socks off. Luckily, it all worked out.
3) She beat some stiff competition.
Nazie contended against 4,000 other girls to land the part of Hushpuppy, a spirited young girl who demonstrates courage and strength amidst her father’s ailing health and the impending flooding of her bayou community.
4) The director rewrote the script for her.
After she was cast, the film’s director, Benh Zeitlin, was so taken with the young actress’s plucky personality that he retooled parts of the script to reflect it better.
5) Her favorite color is pink.
Girl's got taste.
6) She has two dogs.
And according to Nazie, the big German shepherd and the small Yorkipoo don’t exactly get along.
7. She hails from Houma, a small city in southeastern Louisiana (i.e., in the foot).
The area is known for its unique Cajun culture, described by Wikipedia as a “creolization of Native American, Acadian, and African traditions.”
8. She loves pop music.
9. She’s the envy of grown women everywhere.
Her next gig is Twelve Years a Slave, alongside Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender.