Nine-Year-Old Up For Best Actress Oscar

Image: Brad Balfour / Wikipedia
Quvenzhane Wallis was only five when she auditioned for the part of “Hushpuppy.” Image: Brad Balfour / Wikipedia

At nine years old, Quvenzhane Wallis is the youngest person to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

The Academy Awards (nicknamed “The Oscars”) are given to the best work in movies each year. Best Actor and Best Actress are perhaps the most prestigious awards an actor can win.

Wallis was just five when she tried out (or “auditioned”) for the role of Hushpuppy in the film Beasts of the Southern Wild.

In the film, Hushpuppy is a little girl who lives with her ill father in the southern U.S. state of Louisiana.

The director of the film was looking for girls between the ages of six and nine. Wallis’s mother lied on the form and said she was six. Wallis herself admitted the truth during the audition.

The director said he was looking for girls six and up, because he didn’t think that someone younger would be able to act. However when he saw Wallis act, he knew he had found the perfect person to play Hushpuppy. He said she was “beyond anything we’d seen before.”

Image: Wikipedia
Beasts of the Southern Wild is nominated for four Academy Awards (Oscars). Image: Wikipedia

Wallis won the role over 4,000 other girls.

According to the website Wikipedia, “Her reading ability, loud scream and the skill of burping on command impressed the director and won her the part.”

The site also explains Wallis’s interesting first name. “Quven” combines her parents’ first names and zhane means “fairy” in Swahili.

Wallis was five when she auditioned for the role. She was six when she acted in the movie. Now, at nine, she is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. She goes up against four other actresses—one of whom is 86 years old.

The Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Even if Wallis doesn’t win for Best Actress, just by being nominated at age nine she has already made history.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Quvenzhane Wallis’ mother lied about how old her daughter was in order to arrange an audition. Quvenzhane then told the truth about her age to the director. Are little children good at lying? Why or why not? Why do you think so?

Reading Prompt: Reading Unfamiliar Words
Quvenzhane is not a name that is all that common. In fact, as today’s article explains, it’s a mixture of two names and a Swahili word. In order to read unfamiliar words, readers use different strategies. If you solved how to pronounce “Quvenzhane” using the sounding out method, you used a graphophonic cue.

Have a friend create a short list of made up names and then try to pronounce them using graphophonic cues. Did you pronounce them the same way as the author intended? Why or why not?

Primary, Junior, & Intermediate
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including: graphophonic (phonological and graphic) cues (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Grammar Feature: Nicknames
You may already know that the specific names of people, places, and things (proper nouns) are capitalized. For example, “Jim, Sacremento, and August” are all capitalized because they are proper nouns. But does the same rule exist for nicknames–names that are used instead of given names? The answer is yes. Because nicknames take the place of proper nouns, they are always capitalized. For this reason, in order to show that a word is in fact a nickname, it is also common to see nicknames written between quotation marks. For example,

“The Academy Awards (nicknamed “The Oscars”) are given to the best work in movies each year.”

Make a list of nine nicknames (three for people, three for places, and three for things). Remeber to use capitals and quotation marks in each circumstance.