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Quvenzhane Wallis: ‘If I Have To Be Fierce, I’ll Be Fierce’

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
February 18, 2013

Quvenzhane Wallis, the star of the Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild, is a first-time actress. And at age 9, she is the youngest actress ever to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Wallis came to Washington, D.C. last week for an event at the White House with Michelle Obama.

She also stopped by the NPR studios, where she spoke with All Things Considered host Melissa Block about finding time to be fourth grader, what was hard about filming in the Louisiana Bayou and which scene she won’t reenact for her friends.

Interview Highlights

On Why She Carries Around A Dog-Shaped Purse

“It has a zipper, it’s crazy…I use my lipstick and stuff and tissue and just carry it around since Utah, since a year ago.”

On How She Saw Her Character, And Why The Director Picked Her

“I’m not fierce as much anymore. If I have to be fierce, I’ll be fierce.

[Hushpuppy], she was about a little girl who wanted to just follow her father, because her mother wasn’t there, and just wanted to go, kinda just like went after after everything that he has done.

What She’s Listening to When She Picks Up Animals

“I’m listening to their heartbeat…My father kinda had this like fall down, and I guess she was trying to figure out how fast each heartbeats go, and trying to figure out what was going on and stuff like that.

On What She Added to The Script

“Every day we would finish like shooting or anything, we would go to [director Behn Zeitlin's] laptop and he’d have the script on there for the next day. And a couple of days before that, we’ll go look on it and we’ll see and we’ll delete some things and stuff like that…

Some big words and like some words that he mispelled like put like ‘see’ and just put too many eeees and just like all that.

If it was supposed to be like ‘see,’ he would put like ‘s-e-e-e-e-e-e’ so I would have to do ‘eee.’

The Hardest Part of Filming the Movie

“Dealing with the mosquitoes and the mud and just like stuff like that. But I’m used to getting bit by mosquitoes, but the mud, I’m not so used to. Because, if I get in mud, I wash it off, but what they did, they got me in mud and never let me wash it off. But whenever I got home I got to wash it off and go to bed.

Why She Doesn’t Know ‘Who’s The Man?’ Anymore

“It was like a fun scene. Whenever we started saying, like, ‘I’m the man, I’m the man” and just we did that together and that was one gulp of scene.

Whenever I’m like at home, and riding my scooter, they stop me and they’re like, “Who’s the man?” I’m like, ‘I’m not gonna tell you.’

My friends, they be like, ‘Who’s the man?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’

Finding Work-Life Balance As An Oscar-Nominated Fourth Grader

“It’s kinda hard, because like focusing on the role, I don’t have time. But they’re starting to add homework into the schedule, I don’t have time enough to like, do a few things. It’s just kinda like, hard focusing on school. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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