ArticleDownload Worksheet February 21st, 2013
Young Actors Achieve Big at the Oscars
Each year, the Academy Awards, better known as the “Oscars”, celebrate the best films and documentaries with categories ranging from acting, directing and screenwriting, to costumes and special effects. This year, 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis joins the list of kids who have taken the movie business by storm, as she competes for the best actress award for her role as ‘Hushpuppy’ in the film “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up of filmmakers in all fields. The group ranks their favorites in each category. Oftentimes Oscar recognition can take many years, but for some lucky and talented individuals that honor comes early in life.
Newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis (pronounced Kwe-VEN-zhah-nay) portrayed ‘Hushpuppy,’ a young girl fighting to survive in a poor Mississippi Delta community prone to devastating flooding. In the film, Wallis learns to find food in the wilderness, escapes a homeless shelter and deals with the death of her father. She will be the youngest ever nominee in the best actress category at nine years old.
Born in Houma, La., Quvenzhané was just five years old when she auditioned for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. Since auditions for the role of Hushpuppy were only open to 6-9 year olds, Quvenzhané’s mother lied on the initial paperwork to allow her daughter to audition. When director Benh Zeitlin saw her audition however, he immediately recognized her as the best pick for this strong and independent young character.
Young actors and actresses make it to the Oscars
While Wallis is the youngest actress ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for best actress, she is not the youngest nominee ever at the Oscars. That honor belongs to Justin Henry, who was just eight years old when he was nominated for best supporting actor for his part as Billy Kramer in the film “Kramer vs. Kramer” about the aftermath of divorce.
If Wallis wins on Sunday, she will unseat Tatum O’Neal as the youngest ever Oscar winner. O’Neal was ten years old when she won in 1974 for the film “Paper Moon”.
Jackie Cooper was the first child to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. He played the lead in the 1931 movie “Skippy” and was nominated for best actor at nine years old. After starring in several more films as a child star in the 1930s including “Treasure Island” (1934), he served in the Navy and returned to Broadway after service. Later in life he found fame in front of the camera once again, starring as Perry White, the editor of ‘The Daily Planet’ in all four of Christopher Reeve’s “Superman” films.
Like Cooper, Justin Henry decided to explore opportunities outside of the movies, eventually ending up as a new media business consultant.
For her role in the 2006 film “Little Miss Sunshine”, Abigail Breslin was nominated for best actress in a supporting role at the age of ten. Now 16, she is set to star in the upcoming film adaptation of the popular novel “Ender’s Game”.
Haley Joel Osment was 11 years old when he starred in the classic M. Night Shyamalan film “The Sixth Sense” (1999). His role as a boy who could see ghosts won him a nomination for best actor in a supporting role. Now 24, Osment has remained in the acting field, performing on Broadway and doing video game voice-overs in addition to films.
At the moment, the second youngest winner of an Oscar award is Anna Paquin who won for best supporting actress for the film “The Piano” (1993) at the age of 11. Paquin has had steady success over the years as an actress, starring in several of the “X-men” comic book films as ‘Rogue’, and more recently in the the HBO vampire drama television series “True Blood”.
On the other side of the camera, the youngest ever nominee for the award for best director was John Singleton at age 24 for his 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood”. Singleton has since gone on to direct “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003) and “Four Brothers” (2005).
Whether or not Wallis wins the Oscar, she’s already a popular choice for movie directors. She recently finished a project set in 19th century New York entitled “12 Years a Slave” in which she appears alongside Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti and Michael Fassbender.
— Compiled by Ibrahim Balkhy for NewsHour Extra
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of RSS content 3
The role of media literacy in teaching your students about Charlottesville
Use this PBS NewsHour video and discussion questions to teach your students about the events in Charlottesville. Extension activities include the history of Confederate monuments and the debate as to whether or not the statues should remain standing. Continue readingCharlottesvilleConfederacyConfederate monumentscurrent eventsDonald TrumpGovernment & CivicsMedia Literacyneo-NaziracismRobert E. LeeSocial IssuesSocial StudiesU.S. historywhite nationalismwhite supremacy groups
How to discuss the history of white nationalism with your students in the wake of Charlottesville
Today’s Daily News Story provides video, key terms and discussion questions to help teachers talk with their students about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Continue readingCharlottesvilledomestic terrorismDonald TrumpGovernment & CivicsprotestsracismSocial IssuesSocial StudiesU.S. historywhite nationalismwhite supremacy groups
James Madison’s Montpelier tells the stories of the enslaved people who lived there
Montpelier, the home of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, recently opened a new permanent exhibit at the Virginia estate to inform visitors about Madison’s slaves and the lives they led. Continue readingAmerican Historyconstitutionenslaved peoplefounding fathersGovernment & CivicsJames MadisonMontpelierslaverySocial IssuesSocial Studies
Antibiotics keep animals healthy, but some dangerous superbugs are resistant
As high-density, industrial-scale livestock feeding operations become the norm, farmers have had to take extra steps to keep animals healthy. Illnesses and diseases grow and spread quickly when large numbers of similar animals are kept in close proximity. Continue readingantibioticsdiseasedrugsfarmingfoodFood and Drug AdministrationHealthillnesslivestockScienceSTEMsuperbugs
5 engaging lesson plans celebrating invention and innovation
Are you looking for lesson plans focusing on scientific innovation and invention? Click on the…design thinkingdisabilitiesengineeringinnovationinvasive speciesinventionlesson plansmathematicsrenewable energySciencesocial mediaSTEMTechnology