Quvenzhané Wallis: Youngest Best Actress Oscar Nominee Grows Up with 'Challenging' Role in 'Swagger'

Beasts of the Southern Wild's Quvenzhané Wallis reflects on her historic Oscar nomination and discusses her new show Swagger

Quvenzhane Wallis
Photo: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty

Beasts of the Southern Wild Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis is all grown up in her Apple TV+ series Swagger.

Wallis, who holds the record for the youngest Best Actress Oscar nominee ever (she was 9 when nominated), shoots hoops in the drama — inspired by NBA star Kevin Durant's youth experiences — as Crystal, a basketball standout.

It's a role that required the Annie star, 18, to train in order to realistically portray a top athlete.

"It was challenging because I didn't play basketball," the actress says of preparing for the project. "I had an amazing trainer who stuck with me and pushed me to my limit. Now I can play a little bit; I can hang with my brothers."

Nine years after making history at the Oscars, Wallis admits she still gets "goosebumps" when reminded she's a nominee.

Quvenzhané wells

"I spent a lot of time just living and being young in between Annie and Swagger," says Wallis, who also starred in several episodes of Black-ish in 2019. "So, when I got Swagger and began doing press, I'd keep seeing 'Oscar nominee,' and I'm like, 'Gosh!' I got a nice reminder of who I was because it's like, 'Oh, I did that.' It's just crazy to be 18 now."

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Looking back at her Oscars experience, Wallis says she most remembers the snacks.

"It was like, 'What? They have popcorn and jelly beans here!' It was a crazy moment for me," she says laughing. "That small little thing was just mind-blowing, especially being that young. Give me all of them! It was great."

As for what she wants to conquer next in her career, Wallis is quick to say: "Singing and dancing."

"I'm always singing at home. I get on my mom's nerves when I sing. I haven't sung since I was 10 and I'm 18 now, so it's completely different, but that's definitely what I love."

Swagger is now available to stream on Apple TV+.

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