This year's Oscar nominations yielded plenty of snubs, but for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," it was nothing but pleasant surprises. Benh Zeitlin's feature-length directorial debut follows a young heroine as she embarks on a mythical quest to save her town and her father.

The indie darling earned four Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress for 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, making her the youngest nominee in that category's history.

But who is this pint-sized powerhouse? Check out the full rundown on the star of "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

Who Is Quvenzhane Wallis? Wallis is a nine-year-old actress, born in Houma, Louisiana. She first auditioned for the lead of "Beasts" at the tender age of five. A fact that she had to lie about in order to meet the minimum audition age of six years old. She went on to earn the role of Hushpuppy, beating out over 4,000 hopefuls. Zeitlin said that her ability to read well, scream loudly and burp on command won her the part.

How Do You Pronounce Quvenzhane? While there's some debate -- some believe it's Kwe-VEN-zhah-nay, others Kwah-VAHN-Jah-Nay -- in an interview with Roger Ebert, Wallis pronounces it kwa-van-je-nay.

Who Does She Play in "Beasts of the Southern Wild"? Wallis plays Hushpuppy, a 6-year-old girl living with her father, Wink, (Dwight Henry) in an impoverished Delta community known as "the Bathtub." Amid a great storm heading toward the Bathtub and Wink's failing health, Hushpuppy searches to find her mother, while trying to stave off fears of the encroaching Auruchs, mythological beasts that were frozen in the Arctic, but are now free and thunderously charging toward the Bathtub.

Where Else Can I See Her? Wallis will next appear in Steve McQueen's all-star flick "Twelve Years a Slave."
Beasts of the Southern Wild Movie Poster
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Based on 44 critics

Six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in a remote Delta... Read More

categories Movies