“I Don’t Vote For Anyone’s Name I Can’t Pronounce”: Anonymous Oscar Voter Unleashes About Quvenzhane Wallis

February 24, 2013  |  

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for IFP


As we know, the Oscars are tonight and 9 year old Quvenzhane Wallis is nominated for Best Actress in her role as Hushpuppy in Beats of the Southern Wild. She is the youngest nominee in the category and regardless if she wins or not, Quvenzhane has certainly been the belle of the ball to this point.

But, here we go. Someone is finally showing their cards.

Well, sort of.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with an anonymous Oscar voter who gave a very honest opinion on just about every category but was particularly blunt when it came to categories regarding actual talent. But when he got to the Best Actress role, instead of being professional in regards to his opinion of Wallis’ performance, he began by taken the low road:

“…I also don’t vote for anyone whose name I can’t pronounce. Quvez—? Quzen—? Quyzenay? Her parents really put her in a hole by giving her that name — Alphabet Wallis. The truth is, it’s a very sweet but immature performance from a 9-year-old. I’ve directed children. They probably did a thousand takes and put the best ones together.”

Now, many people have made fun of Wallis’ first name and even those who haven’t have had a hard time pronouncing it. However, that has not stopped people from being objective – and respectful – when it comes to her work.  This anonymous voter and director, though honest, sounds like he’s been stuck in his ways for many years and could possibly miss out on rewarding a young lady who has potential to be a megastar.

Here’s the even bigger question: Do you think he’s the only one who matters in the voting process who feels this way?  Much like we talk about everyday people – black people, in particular – who have unique names and may be weeded out when it comes to job searches, could Wallis be treated the same way?

What do you think about this?

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  • james

    “Fairy” in Swahili is “kichimbakazi”, not some BS made-up combined name from her ghetto dad and mom.

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  • Suchalady

    She also has a grown woman who happens to be engaged to John Legend throwing shade at her. Why does that airhead, Chrissy always feel the need to show out? Pathetic.

  • JewelThompson

    Why do we even care about this nonsense? It is more of the same. Everybody else makes the effort to learn how to pronounce names foreign to them except a “certain” type of people within a “certain” group of people. They won’t make the effort so what happens? All of a sudden your name is truncated (without your permission) to being one syllable or they refuse to call you by your name at all. Nothing new.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    We all know we take that risk of setting our children up for failure when we name them with names that are very unique or difficult to pronounce. It is what is it is. So why are acting all brand new and surprised like we don’t people act like this?

  • Jules

    USA you’re sad, very sad and pathetic,angry country. Make the same girl,don’t know, afro/french -she would de chic and exotic and wouldn’t be treated like that,but she afro/american and poor,talanted child gets all that shit….embarrassing

  • Sagittarius81

    And this is why I don’t watch the Oscars at all.

  • Tammy

    Thats life, &her mother should have known the risk when naming her. Black people want to be unique, but do their children no justice by giving them these names, knowing how hard it is for black people to get jobs without the “Laqueshalina” added on already. Somebody will hire her for talent, some won’t hire her for her name. Racist? Maybe. Racism isn’t going to die overnight. I wish people would stop acting so shocked when they witness it. Does her name even have a meaning?

    • iT3ach

      THIS…game me LIFE! Yesssssssss!!!

    • satyrical

      so, this is called racism, and you are perpetuating it. Her name is swahili for ‘fairy’. And what about the hollywood stars who named their babies gems like “Apple, Honor, Bronx, Zuma”? Oh wait, they are white, so it doesn’t matter. Your privilege is showing.

      • JustAnotherUser

        No. It doesn’t not mean “fairy”. It actually does not mean anything in Swahili. You should probably stop repeating stuff if you don’t actually know it’s correct. It makes you look completely ignorant and your comment just goes in the “spam box” in my brain.

        Also, your assumption about names like “Apple, Honor, Bronx, *and* Zuma” not mattering because they’re “white”? Yeah, that’s a racist comment. Congratulations, you’re the very thing you think you hate.

    • anonymouse

      maybe we should aspire for our children to be job creators and teach them to not look down on somebody for having an unconventional name.

      • Thank you!!!! Atleast somebody has sense and is not just looking to conform.

  • ttoya

    What ever yall no as well as I do that black women need to stop these ridiculous names. Thats just some made up crap, im black and cant pronouce it. Heck my name ghetto enough ,stop the madness

    • Naava

      Her name is Swahili for “fairy,” not “just some made up crap.” The problem, however, doesn’t lie in her name or its meaning, it lies in society continually choosing the most trivial things about a person of color and letting that define who they are and what they can or cannot accomplish. The voter’s reasoning is unsound and inherently racist, and, quite frankly, her NAME should not overshadow her TALENT. Period.

      • chamonix

        Quven-shitwhatever DOESN’T mean “fairy” in Swahili. It’s her a bastard combo of her mother and father’s names.

        Zhane was nice enough of a name and her idiotic parents had to make it poor ghetto. Her siblings are even called Qunyquekya, Venjie Jr., and Vejon. It’s disgusting just to pronounce them!

        REALLY, Wallis parents? REALLY?

        • CallMeSu

          *Applause* I couldn’t say it better myself! Every made up ghetto-name is NOT African. In fact I think that is offensive to the African culture to attribute their lineage to this foolery. The mom said clearly on the Tom Joyner Morning show today (3.20.2015), that its the combo of the mother’s and fathers names and that most of the family has these kinds of names. Its like nails on a chalkboard to me! I cringed when she said them. This is not making us unique, its clearly becoming a hindrance to our community and perpetuating stereotypes. Its ridiculous.

    • so what should her name be then? Susan, carol, betty sue? I’m sure in the olden days these names were probably considered ‘made up’ ‘different’ or extreme and who knows in 100 years time Quevenzhane may be considered a fairly usual name. Let people name their kids what they want thats what makes us all unique. Nobody wants to have the same name as everybody else on their street, in their school or in their workplace.

  • BobbyBrownsUnhingedLowerJaw

    a few…Oprah, Condleeza, Barack…..come on now…Shaniqua is no longer unique…white folks need to get over it and get with it…i know a yt girl named Etoyia! smh!!!

    • Eggy

      Barack is not in the same category. It’s an actual Arabic/Muslim name. Quv-whatever is a bunch of letters mashed up together that her mother thought sounded nice. Mr. Anonymous may have been rude and insensitive….but that little girl is going to have to work much harder for the rest of her life to overcome the burden of that name.

      • Theres nothing wrong with her name people are just throwing hissy fits because they’ve never heard of it before. In 20 years time, and providing this little girl continues to go on and give great performances in a variety of movies, this name will just roll off of peoples tongues.

  • kierah

    Then I guess this voter doesn’t vote in any foreign films categories either.

  • hollyw

    I literally just read that article this morning, dropped my jaw, then picked it up and said, ‘what did you expect?’ to myself. Even the stars know that the Oscars are rigged.

    The guy’s an idiot. I don’t think he in particular is a good representation of the panel, though, only b/c he’s not even familiar w/ the movie he’s about to vote on; Quvenzhane was SIX in that movie, one. So he’s right. It would be an immature performance for a 9yr old…but an unbelievable one from a 6 yr-old acting in her first film. Two, the Oscar gods-that-be obviously disagree w/ his take on her acting, as she was nominated for BEST ACTRESS, beating out a whole gaggle of simple-named, high-pedigreed actresses. Smh. He’s just a hater, join the club, and have a seat.

  • lorna

    If he can discriminate her name I can only imagine his opinion when it come to her skin colour, no wonder black people are barely even nominated let alone win. that is why Oscars and co don’t do shyt for me it is made to reward white people and some few sell outs. Oscars get no love or support from me bye!!

  • Hopscotch776

    This is so racist… What about all the foreign film actors, I’m sure he can’t pronounce all of their names? If she was European they would love her name and think it’ so chic. This is why we shouldn’t put stock into an area where we are not welcomed in the first place. Plus, she was 5 when she filmed the role, not 9. She wasn’t going to win anyway but it’s a nice gesture for her to nominated at such a young age. Much success to her in the future.

    • JewelThompson

      Great point. Quvenzhane could not have gotten nominated without members of the Academy voting for her in the first place.

  • honest

    this is why i say black ppl should’ve started there own Oscars many moons ago…racism is Alive and isnt going anywhere until God comes back and cleans this Earth and gives us a new one…the Oscar board is a bunch of dirty old white men who get to pick there favorite white actors/actresses who probably had to sleep with them for movie roles and Oscar nominations…Hollywood is absolutely disgusting…I dont blame Denzel Washington for staying away from those ppl….adults who talk bad about kids aren’t nice ppl…im not surprised

  • Laine

    Wait a minute…how do we know that the anonymous Oscar voter is a “he”..???

    • MLS2698

      It’s of the people, by the people, for the people. White male people.

  • Ai

    I have one tip for young Quvenzhane that I would tell any child in my family in the same position. I would tell her to raise her precious little hand high in the sky and hold the bird in the air to that voter and anyone else who has something to say about her name.

  • This shows why the voting process for the Oscars and the Oscars themselves are so problematic. People like him, frankly, should not be on that board if they feel that way. It’s not just about her name, it’s about people not looking at her performance for what it is, feeling that just because she has a different name, it defines all of who she is. Everything is coded; the real issue os that he doesn’t want this little Black girl, no matter how talented she is, to win because she doesn’t fit his ideal. There are plenty of white actors and actresses with strange names (Sigourney, Channing, Scarlett, Zooey) and I don’t see them getting the same flack.

  • all love

    So I guess Joaquin Phoenix won’t get his vote either

    • IllyPhilly

      Love it!

    • Eggy

      Joaquin is a Spanish derivative of a Hebrew name. It actually does mean something…

      • Naava

        So does Quvenzhane. It is Swahili for “fairy”, but the meaning of her name shouldn’t matter. She should be respected and her talent recognized, regardless of how well a person can spell or pronounce her name.

        • Eggy

          Untrue. Don’t believe everything you read on wikipedia and the internet. No such word exists in Swahili. Reminds me of the late 90’s when people would tattoo Chinese caricature on their bodies saying it means or “strength” when it really just means “cow”….or black people who think placing an apostrophe randomly in their names suddenly makes it french.

          • Naava

            As aforesaid, her name should not dictate whether she is respected or if her talent is recognized. That’s the point.

            • Eggy

              It SHOULD not but it WILL. That’s the reality. It is not a new discovery that one’s name can allow them or prohibit them from job opportunities. Hollywood is not dominated by people that look like Little Quvenzhane. It’s dominated by people name John, Jim, and Becky. It’s not too early for her to realize that she is going to have to work hard….and harder still because of the name her parents decided to give herr. It may not be fair, but life isn’t.

              • Naava

                This is very correct, yet its truth does not counteract its fault. Hard work and acceptance of reality are crucial; I’d be foolish to deny this. Nevertheless, her name should not dictate how others perceive her. No person’s name should dictate how others perceive him/her. It shouldn’t matter that this Oscar voter won’t take 5 seconds to Google the proper pronunciation of her name. It shouldn’t matter whether it’s Swahili or whether it should have an accent or that she’s a person of color or that she’s female. None of it should matter. It does, and that’s very sad, but it shouldn’t. It just shouldn’t. That’s all I have to say on the matter.

      • MLS2698

        So why can’t they write it phonetically in parenthesis beside her name? Like Webster’s Dictionary.

  • pfeiffer87

    Everyone knows that the Academy is made up of old white men. The chances that a person of colour would win is very slim. Having said that, what a d!ck.

    • Angelina

      He’s A big sick d!ck.


    What does her name has to do with her performance in the movie. These ppl with money can be so trivial. He/she wants her to change her name to get his/her vote??? Its ridic….She didnt name herself!