Hollywood’s New ‘It Girl’ Keeps It Real

Beasts of the Southern Wild's Quvenzhané Wallis says she remains unfazed by the news of her Oscar nom.

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“She just brought immediately who she was in the room,” Penn told The Root. “She’s not like the character in a lot of ways, but she’s very wise. She just has this wisdom. She took the part of Hushpuppy and immediately changed it. She made it kind of about her character’s emotional world.

“She’s just a natural,” he continued. “When she wasn’t on screen you wanted her to be.”

Unlike most nominees, however, she’s not really concerned about winning or losing or what she’s going to wear. “If it happens, it happens,” she said. “If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

At press time, Wallis didn’t have any upcoming roles booked, but she’ll be seen next in Twelve Years a Slave. Directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard and Paul Giamatti, the film is based on Solomon Northup’s book about a free man (Ejiofor) living in New York City during the 1800s before he is kidnapped and sold into slavery.

So, until she books another gig, she’ll resume the life she led in Houma, a typical sleepy little Southern Louisiana town with magnolia trees lining the streets and Cajun seasonings accenting the grub. The fourth-grader will go back to her public school, play sports and eat as much pizza as her parents will allow, but after her recent successes, she might not be able to ride her scooter down the street without encountering a reporter.

Last week a tabloid TV show discovered where the Wallises live, and now Qulyndreia is even more protective of the youngest of her four kids — so much so that she’s stopped giving interviews.

Nazie, as Quvenzhané is called by her family, however, seems to be adjusting to the eminent changes. Well, sort of.

“More things and phones and things and phones and things and emails and phones and things and phones,” she said when asked to describe how her life has changed since Beasts. “It’s just too much.”

That said, she doesn’t want to it all to go away just yet. “I like it,” she said emphatically. “I like it a lot.”

Miki Turner is the author of Journey to the Woman I’ve Come to Love. She is based in Los Angeles.