Baker-Turned-Actor on Newfound Stardom

Dwight Henry stars in the acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild, set in Katrina-torn New Orleans.

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DH: I have five kids [ages 9 and under]. It was easy for me to relate to her because [of] some of the same things that I do with my 7-year-old daughter ... we have a wonderful relationship. I brought the same qualities and same interactions to the screen with Nazzy. Ultimately she had the say-so for who was going to play her father because she was 6 years old. She has to feel comfortable with who she's working with.

TR: What did you do to make Quvenzhané feel at ease?

DH: I had to use strategy. So I did some of the same things that I do with my daughter. When she's mad at me for whatever reason she's mad at me, I go to Toys R Us and get two bags of toys -- that's a rap, she's good. What I did when they first told me [I got the part], I packed up all kinds of pastries in a box from the bakery and everything -- like four big boxes -- and when they brought me in to meet her, I looked at her, I handed her the boxes, put a big ol' smile on my face and laughed. She looked at me, looked in that box and put that big ol' smile on her face, and I knew I had her then.

Brett Johnson is The Root's associate editor.

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