At 20 years old, Quvenzhane Wallis has this physical status:
At age five, Wallis lied about her age to audition for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), which had a minimum tryout age of 6. She was chosen out of 4,000 to play Hushpuppy, an indomitable child prodigy and survivalist who lives with her dying father in the backwoods bayou squalor of Louisiana. Director Benh Zeitlin told The Daily Beast that when he auditioned Wallis, he immediately realized he had discovered what he was looking for, and changed the Beasts of the Southern Wild script to accommodate her strong-willed personality. Her reading prowess, loud screaming voice, and ability to burp on command impressed the director and won her the part. Zeitlin has stated that "it was just the feeling behind her eyes".
The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 to rave reviews, winning the Grand Jury Prize. In May 2012, Wallis flew to France for the premiere of the film at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Wallis's performance drew widespread acclaim and Zeitlin won the Caméra d'Or, the festival's award for best first feature film. On January 10, 2013, at age nine, Wallis was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Wallis, who was 6 when she filmed Beasts of the Southern Wild, is the all-time youngest nominee for Best Actress and the third-youngest nominee. Wallis is the first African-American child actor and the first person born in the 21st century to earn an Oscar nomination.
Wallis had a role in the film 12 Years a Slave (2013), and collaborated with the Sundance Film Festival on a short film called Boneshaker. In 2014, she played the title character in Annie, the first African American to do so. For this, she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and received praise from most reviewers. In May 2014, Wallis became the first child celebrity to be named the face of a luxury brand when she was signed by Armani Junior, Giorgio Armani's fashion line for children and teens.
Wallis appeared in Beyoncé's 2016 music video for "All Night". In October 2017, she released two children's books: the friendship-centric Shai & Emmie Star in Break an Egg! and A Night Out With Mama, which is about her night at the Oscars with her mother. She published two more books, Shai & Emmie Star in To the Rescue! and Shai & Emmie Star in Dancy Pants!, in 2018.
She became a member of the Actors Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2018.