Quvenzhane Wallis, youngest Oscar nominee in history and nine-year-old star of the acclaimed fantasy drama Beasts of the Southern Wild, has just won the lead role in Annie, a reboot of the movie musical.
Directed by Friends With Benefits director Will Gluck, big name producers include rapper and Roc Nation co-head Jay Shawn Carter (otherwise known as Jay-Z), Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter, Jay Brown, and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith.
In an announcement by Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad and Hannah Minghella, President of Production — Minghella said:
“With the recent Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim, Quvenzhane Wallis is a true star and we believe her portrayal as Annie will make her a true worldwide star. She is an extraordinary young talent with an amazing range, not only as an actress but as a singer and dancer, and we can’t wait for audiences to further discover her.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gluck is currently revising the adapted screenplay originally written by Emma Thompson and later rewritten by Aline Brosh McKenna.
The film is based on the book Annie which was written by Thomas Meehan — who also wrote Hairspray and The Producers — and will be overseen by Columbia’s Andrea Giannetti and Devon Franklin.
The Annie role was famously turned down by pop star-actress Willow Smith, who wanted a time-out from set calls, leaving the way clear for Quvenzhane.
Celebrated for her role as “Hushpuppy” in first time director’s Benh Zeitlin’s Oscar-nominated Beasts, it will be interesting to see what this young actress brings to the iconic hard knocks life orphan role.
Wallis won the Best Young Actor/Actress Award at this year’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and was recently honored along with Oprah Winfrey along with many others at Essence Magazine’s Black Women’s Awards Luncheon.
The young actress is appearing in Steve McQueen’s film Twelve Years A Slave, which also stars Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Michael Fassbender. The film arrives this September, Empire Online notes.
Annie is slated for release during the holiday season of 2014.