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Quvenzhané Wallis is Annie

Dec 16, 2014

By: Lynn Barker

11-year-old Quvenzhané (pronounced Quee-von-zee-nay) Wallis was so impressive as the dirt-poor daughter of an alcoholic in Beasts of the Southern Wild that she was nominated for an Oscar. In 12 Years a Slave, she was a child separated from her mom.  On December 19th you can see her sing, dance and play Annie, the famous girl from the poor side of the tracks who is sure the sun will come out “Tomorrow” alongside popular Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.

A giant pretzel break for Stacks and AnnieA giant pretzel break for Stacks and AnnieCourtesy of Sony Pictures

In New York, recently, the cute tween actress talked about playing an icon (nothing really scares her), making friends on set, her favorite subject in school and important lessons she learned about acting from Annie director Will Gluck.

Q: This is your first musical. What are some of your cool memories of shooting it?

  • Quvenzhane: Sometimes while we were shooting on the streets of New York, there were people driving by and they would wind down their window when I was shooting with Jamie and go “We love you Jamie Foxxxxxx” as they were going down the street. That was so amazing what people do when they see Jamie Foxx.

Annie, her dog Sandy and Mr. Stacks (Jamie Foxx)Annie, her dog Sandy and Mr. Stacks (Jamie Foxx)Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Were you jealous?

  • Quvenzhané: No.. I’d just say “Haha.. you’ve got people screaming your name while we are shooting”. They don’t know who I am a lot. Some people screamed my name but not all the time. I know I’m not really out there a lot like Jamie and Cameron (Diaz) are. I agree with them. If I was going down the street and saw him I’d be yelling “Jamie Foxxxx”!

Q: Did you get to see anything while in New York?

Q: What was the most challenging thing for you making this film; singing, dancing or acting?

  • Quvenzhané: There wasn’t anything really difficult about it because it was all really fun and something that I really, really like so it wasn’t like there was anything that challenging. I was tired a lot but I’d eat something to get me back up like veggies and fruits.

Dressed-up Annie takes the stageDressed-up Annie takes the stageCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: You had to go to school on set though, right?

  • Quvenzhané: Yeah but we would do a scene or two and they would pull me for about 30 minutes and I would chill and drink my Gatorade. It was a break for me then they’d say “You have to go back to set”. Sometimes, they’d bring school (the teacher) to set and we’d do like three minutes while they re-set the camera. Cameron and everybody was helping me with homework.

Q: What’s your favorite subject?

  • Quvenzhané: Science and that’s it. Studying? No. Homework? No. Tests? No. School-wise, my teachers are nice so I’m a normal kid.

Annie tells Sandy to keep hopingAnnie tells Sandy to keep hopingCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: What is something other than acting in a movie that you like to do?

  • Quvenzhané: Baking. I’m good enough at it. My favorite food that my mom makes is stir fry. It’s so good. It touches my heart.

Q: Annie is a foster child living in Cameron Diaz’ small apartment…

  • Quvenzhané: It was really small. The girls’ room was like a box and the other room was like a small hallway with all her pictures and a living room, a small one.

Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) and foster girls in tiny apartmentMiss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) and foster girls in tiny apartmentCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: In such close quarters, did you make good friends with the other girls playing the foster kids?

  • Quvenzhané: Oh yes. We talk a lot and we love each other very much. We are basically like sisters. It’s very nice having other kids on set to make it fun.

Q: Were you familiar with other “Annie” movies?

  • Quvenzhané: I watched the one that was before this one (a 1982 movie). I’ve watched that a million times. This one is more recent (updated). It has cell phones. And she’s not an orphan, she’s a foster kid so it was different.

Annie looks forward to a better dayAnnie looks forward to a better dayCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: What is the most valuable advice you got from your director?

  • Quvenzhané: Just to always feel what your character is going through because if you don’t, it kind of doesn’t seem right. Just live with what you think they’re feeling and also, hit your mark. There would be a mark on the floor and I would either stand back (too far) or in front of it. Finally, I hit my mark but messed up my lines!

Q: What do you really like about acting?

  • Quvenzhané: I like becoming a different character each time and seeing with other people’s eyes, what other people are going through like with Annie, she’s a foster kid. I like what I’ve been doing for the past five years. I would love to keep doing it but I’d also like to become a veterinarian.

Q: Very cool. How do you stay real and grounded when you were nominated for an Oscar at so young an age (for Beasts of the Southern Wild)?

  • Quvenzhané: There’s two different worlds for me. There’s a movie world and there’s a real life world. In my real life world I’m just a goofball and that regular kid that you know. When I go into the movie world, it’s more like that girl that is the youngest Oscar nominee and Armani’s youngest model. But, in my world, I see the real me, the goofy one. In the movie world I’m more mature. When I act I feel like one person but when they say “Cut”, I’m a whole different person. There are two different me’s when I’m acting.

A younger Quvenzhane in Beasts of the Southern WildA younger Quvenzhane in Beasts of the Southern WildCourtesy of Fox Searchlight

Q: And who is Annie?

  • Quvenzhané: She is this foster girl that’s really strong and doesn’t let anything get in her way which I do too but she just keeps going and never stops so that’s something that I relate to because, if I have a goal, I keep going even if there is something in the way, I just go around it.

Q: Are you a girlie girl or more of a tomboy?

  • Quvenzhané: Well, I’m not the girlie girl and not the tomboy but I’m in the middle. I don’t like (ballet) tutus but I like pink. I don’t like pouf pouf dresses but I like ones that you can spin around in. I like my Hello Kitty earrings.

Annie with fellow foster girlsAnnie with fellow foster girlsCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: If you were to meet Annie in real life, what about her would make her your friend?

  • Quvenzhané: Oh, we’re basically twins but I would be her number one fan because I love me some Annie! We have a lot of similarities. Again, she’s that go-getter girl. She’s strong. She doesn’t even let Miss Hannigan get in her way. She’s going to get back on her path. That is something I would love about her.

Annie PosterAnnie PosterCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Annie is in theaters December 17th!