Quvenzhané Wallis

How Beasts of the Southern Wild (and Its 8-Year-Old Star) Became a Film-Fest Phenomenon by Katherine Yaksich

Standing ovations happen every year at the Cannes Film Festival, but rarely are they as long and as loud as the one that erupted following last month’s Cannes premiere of Beasts of the Southern Wild—a low-budget, magical-realist adventure about a little girl and her community struggling for survival on the southernmost edge of Louisiana as a storm rolls in.

All of this was, of course, a bit lost on the film’s star, 8-year-old acting novice Quvenzhané Wallis. (It’s pronounced Kwe-VEN-zhah-nay, and means “fairy” in Swahili, but you can call her Nazie—NAY-zee.) “It felt like I was in a cage!” she says of being in a theater on the French Riviera, surrounded by towering, applauding adults. “It was crazy! They were all looking at me and clapping for seven or ten minutes, just standing up for meeeeee!” Mid-ovation, Beasts director Benh Zeitlin lifted her up, eliciting even louder cheers. “That was fun because the lights were in my eyes, and it was like this”—Wallis squints hard and pretends to go blind. Less fun was the celebratory dinner afterward, when she tried what the menu said was crawfish. “And it was shrimp!” she says, putting her hands on her hips mock-indignantly, then dissolving into giggles.

Click the link at the top for the full article by Jada Yuan.