At only 9 years old, Quvenzhane (Kuh-VAHN-zuh-nay) Wallis is the youngest ever Best Actress nominee for an Academy Award. Her portrayal of Hushpuppy in the magically poignant "Beasts of the Southern Wild" earned her many accolades, but her nomination was polarizing. Is she too young? Is it too soon? Shouldn't actors with more experience and a substantial body of work deserve the honor?
Be that as it may, Quvenzhane is in the race and may go up onstage this Sunday. In case that happens, here are some tips she can borrow from past Best Actress winners and their unforgettable speeches:
Takeaways from Julia Roberts (who won in 2000 for "Erin Brockovich"): Be funny, be humble, keep it short and do not go overboard with the thanks (the clock is there for a reason).
Takeaways from Halle Berry (who won in 2001 for "Monster's Ball"): Crying is totally understandable, but try to get some words in. The world is watching.
(Gwyneth Paltrow's teary-eyed speech in 1998 conveys that point, as does Marion Cotillard's 2007 heartfelt version).
Takeaways from Nicole Kidman (who won in 2002 for "The Hours"): Be genuinely grateful for those who helped you get where you are. You can skip the political commentary, you'll sound like a beauty pageant contestant.
Takeaways from Sally Field (who won in 1984 for "Places in the Heart"): Don't try too hard.
Takeaways from Hilary Swank (who won in 2004 for "Million Dollar Baby"): Acknowledge where you came from, acknowledge your fellow nominees. Do not yell.
Takeaways from Shirley Maclaine (who won in 1983 for "Terms of Endearment"): Don't comes off as entitled.
Takeaways from Anna Paquin (who won for Best Supporting Actress in 1993 for "The Piano." She was 11 years old): Say something.
If you do not win, Quvenzhane, take this one piece of advice from best actress titan Meryl Streep. Clap graciously, remain dignified, and express your support with sheer exuberance. Winning isn't everything and just being nominated is an honor.
A little note to quash any confusion: Though an unmistakable achievement to be the youngest girl ever nominated for Best Actress, Wallis is not the youngest ever Oscar nominee. That title goes to Justin Henry, who was nominated for 1979's "Kramer vs. Kramer" at 8 years old. He did not win. The youngest ever Oscar winner in any category is Tatum O'Neal, who took home the statue for Best Supporting Actress at the age of 10 (for 1973's "Paper Moon.")
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