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LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Beasts of the Southern Wild” star Quvenzhane Wallis is an actress of talent, poise and maturity well beyond her years.
She was only 5 years old when she auditioned and 6 when she played the part of Hushpuppy, a little girl of fierce strength and resourcefulness living with her daddy in a squalid slab of Louisiana swampland known as The Bathtub. She was just a regular kid from nearby Houma, La. — she’d never even acted before, and actually pretended to be a year older than she was to be considered.
Now, at only 9, Quvenzhane (Kuh-VAHN-zuh-nay) is the youngest-ever actress nominee at the Academy Awards. Altogether, “Beasts” has four nominations at the Feb. 24 ceremony, including best picture.
While her presence is undeniable, Quvenzhane’s nomination raises the question: How young is too young to compete for an Oscar, the film industry’s highest honor, which has eluded performers with decades more experience and acclaim? Is a child really capable of acting, with craft, or do these performances reflect uncanny instinct?
Read the rest of this post on TheGrio.com.
There are few people in this world who can say they’ve made it to a certain level in their careers without hard work and perhaps, someone who didn’t mind lending a helping hand.
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer has taken it upon herself to lend that hand in her industry. EURweb is reporting that Spencer is currently holding a contest on her Facebook page for aspiring filmmakers. She explained that she knows the struggle of “making it big” in the industry because it was the same way with her and many of her friends. As she stated:
“What many people don’t know is that it takes an average of 15 years to become an over night success. At least that’s how long it took me and my friends. But, in that time you must create and continue to hone your skills. If you are a musician, write poetry and turn it into an amazing song. If you are a filmmaker write a short and shoot it. I’ve done it twice now. I know it’s not easy. Two of my friends shot beautiful, award winning shorts on the CANON EOS 60D. One of those films was shortlisted to potentially receive an Oscar nomination yesterday. Trust me I know money is tight. So, in honor of Award Season, I’d like to help someone else see their dream realized.”
Each film, which must be in short form, must be posted right on her page and cannot exceed 20 minutes in length. All filmmakers can enter as many films as they’d like but can only submit each film once. The winner will receive a Canon EOS 60D, Platinum 6000 digital tripod and $1,000. The second and third place winners will receive $500 and $250, respectively.
All entries must be submitted before February 10th and the winner will be announced during Oscar weekend (the show will air live on February 24th).
This is a wonderful thing Spencer is doing. Not only is she encouraging up and coming artists by sharing her story (which clearly hasn’t been easy), but she’s also doing her part to further a filmmaker’s talents. There’s something to be said for a person who sees that their success can be used to build up someone else.
If you’ve got a film or have been thinking about making one, get to it and submit!
Celebration! “Beasts of The Southern Wild” Star Quvenzhané Wallis Is Youngest Best Actress Oscar Nominee Ever At 9
While you were sleeping, Academy Award nominations were being announced this morning (and we’re talking EARLY since it’s still early as I type this), and out of all the nominees, snubs and surprises, the nomination that has us most excited is the one little Quvenzhané Wallis received for her role in the movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild. She is up for the Best Actress Oscar, pitting her against seasoned actresses and “It girls” like Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts and Jessica Chastain (ya’ll remember her as the lovable ditzy wife from The Help?). Wallis is now the youngest woman–er, young lady, to be nominated in the Best Actress category ever, at just nine years old. What in the hell was I doing at nine???
If you missed out on Beasts of the Southern Wild, an extraordinarily touching piece of work, Wallis plays six-year-old Hushpuppy, an optimistic and independent child thanks to her father, Wink, a single dad who teaches her how to be able to fend for herself. So much so that he can come off kind of cruel. It also helps that teachers at her school teach the local children how to prepare for the arrival of a prehistoric creature called an Auroch, which plays a big part in the movie. After a storm hits and the life around her starts to crumble, Hushpuppy is forced to put everything she’s taught to good use and goes in search of her long-lost mother, who she pined for in a majority of the movie.
I’m so happy to see not only this little girl, but this movie receive its just dues from the Academy. I was shocked to find that the Golden Globes and other big awards shows didn’t nominate Wallis, the director, Behn Zeitlin, or the movie as a whole, so I was expecting a big snub like Pariah received last year. But someone must have wised up because Wallis will be sitting pretty on Oscar night, as well as Zeitlin, who was nominated for Best Director and for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the movie received a Best Picture nom. Please check out this gem of a film if you can find it, because it is available on DVD. I had the opportunity to check out it sometime last year, and was blown away by this little lady, as well as by how visually emanate the film was at all times. If you didn’t know Quvenzhané’s name already, it will be stuck in your head now! Congrats!
And on a side note, congratulations are also in order for Denzel Washington once again, who has been nominated in the Best Actor category for his role in Flight, another amazing film. And Django Unchained received a Best Picture nomination (and Best Original Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino), though Christoph Waltz was the only actor from the film nominated. I know Leo DiCaprio is somewhere fuming…Big ups to all!
Winning an Oscar is said to be the pinnacle of an actor’s career, but is walking away with a gold statue and recognition from your peers really worth anything tangible, like better movie roles and more money? Octavia Spencer says no.
This past award’s season was all about “The Help” actress, and she cleaned up in virtually ever best supporting actress category she was nominated in, from the SAGs to the Golden Globes, and the coveted Academy Awards. Octavia knew the hoopla wasn’t going to be all it was cracked up to be, remarking after she won her Golden Globe, “The studios are still not going to beat down my door unless it’s a small part in a big comedy, and I’ve done those.” Months later, and with an Oscar under her belt, her prophecy is proving to be true. In an interview with The Vulture, the star of the upcoming flick, “Smashed,” talked about how not much has changed since award season when it comes to her career. Here’s a bit of the Q&A:
While you were on set [for "The Help"], did you have a sense that your career was in the middle of a big shift?
No, the reality for me was that I thought my phone would be ringing a lot, and it wasn’t. And this project ["Smashed"] came along, and it was a great film, and it was [prior to] the success of “The Help.” Now, looking back, they get huge kudos from me. So no, because my phone wasn’t ringing off the hook, I didn’t feel like anything was changing.
Well, it must have started ringing at some point, because you have some pretty great projects coming up, like Diablo Cody’s movie andSnow Piercer.
Well, the funny is thing is that I got the Diablo Cody movie and I got “Snow Piercer” before I got any nominations, so I knew I had both of those projects in November. I don’t want to sound as if [I'm complaining]. The reality is that there are so few roles out there for women and for women of color, and I’m a character actor, this I know. And I’m getting to see more of the roles that are out there, but there aren’t many. And zilch have been studio movies. Zilch. So my challenge and my opportunity now is to take the opportunity to create my own work. I’m fine with that.
So what you’re saying is that you booked a lot of roles off The Help, but winning the Oscar — lovely though it may have been — wasn’t necessarily a big needle-mover.
It’s a needle-mover in the sense that I get to go into room and meet with really important people. If that translates into job offers, then we’ll see. It’s a needle-mover, but not that much.
It was a needle-mover in another way, at least: During the Oscar season, you wore — and I know you’re going to be modest about this — a lot of gorgeous Tadashi Shoji dresses.
I’m not going to be modest: I did! [Laughs]
What advice would you give to the stars who are about to embark on that Oscar gauntlet of press and promotion and parties, like you did last year?
See, for me, I’ve been doing this for seventeen years, so I just looked it as an opportunity to meet people and enjoy myself. I would say: Be kind to yourself, get rest, but go and enjoy yourself. Don’t look it as a job, because if you go into it expecting anything and it doesn’t happen, then you’ve lost a lot of time. If you go into it without a lot of expectations, you can enjoy the process and enjoy the fact the George Clooney’s going to walk through that door, Brad Pitt’s going to walk through that door, all these people that you ever dared to dream of meeting. I was always excited: Oh my God, there’s George! I’ll be right back, I’m going to say hi to George. That’s how I took it, and enjoyed every moment of it.
Though “The Help” and the recognition that came with it may have pigeonholed Octavia Spencer in Hollywood, the truth of the matter is unless you were a phenomenal, well-known actor or actress before winning an Oscar, the little gold man doesn’t seem to do much for anybody. I can’t say if this is specifically race related, but just thinking off the top of my head, the acting careers of Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, and Monique all seemed to go rapidly downhill after their Oscar wins, regardless of the type of role they played. This is often why such awards are considered more of a popularity contest than any indication of one’s value in the business.
What do you think about what Octavia had to say about her career post-Oscar?
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R&B singer Ne-Yo made headlines recently when he revealed that he turned down the chance to play Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he didn’t want to gain 30 pounds. He may have passed on a career defining opportunity, but after his role in Red Tails, maybe not…
In the acting world, getting the chance to play someone famous in a biopic is sure to take a career to the next level, and these days, everybody is doing it. Usher has already spoken out about the high expectations he has for his upcoming role as Sugar Ray Leonard. He wants an Oscar. He’d be following in the footsteps of fellow entertainers and actors who have stepped into the shoes of iconic public figures and created a path towards podiums in doing so.
Denzel was robbed of an Oscar for his portrayal of slain civil rights activist Malcolm X in 1993. Denzel assumed the identity of the complex man with ease and grace. He spoke the way Malcolm spoke. He carried himself the way Malcolm did and he made people feel as passionately about the Nation of Islam as the leader did with his nuanced performance. Denzel thoroughly inhabited the role of Malcolm through his cadence, posture and every inflection to the point where it felt he was no longer acting. He became Malcolm Little turned unconventional hero. Denzel may not have won the Oscar for the biopic, but the universal praise for his performance should be a fitting consolation.
Tags:Angela Bassett, beyonce, biopic, cadillac records, denzel washington, Dorothy Dandridge, dr. martin luther king jr, etta james, halle berry, ike turner, Jamie Foxx, jennifer lopez, laurence fishburne, malcolm x, morgan freeman, Muhammad Ali, Ne-Yo, Nelson Mandela, oscar, Ray Charles', Selena, sugar ray leonard, tina turner, Usher, Will Smith
Every time you give Usher an inch, this man just has to take a mile. A few months ago we found out Usher was cast as Sugar Ray Leonard in a new film alongside Robert DeNiro and the reaction was sort of…meh. The movie is really about the life of Panamanian boxer, Roberto Durán, so we figured he should be able to carry the small role but Ursh clearly has some delusions of grandeur about how great of an actor he is or will be in this part.
In a profile with the UK’s Independent, Usher was asked what was appealing to him about the part:
“It was proper casting,” he shrugs. “I was selected. They approached me to do it. And all I had to was consider it.”
I always thought proper casting was auditioning and earning the role. *Shrugs* You can tell by Usher’s response he’s not too worried about being a good fit for the part acting wise, which is why when the reporter asked him if he was intimidated at all by starring in a flick with Robert DeNiro and Gael Garcia Bernal of all people, he said:
“Not at all, not at all. There’s a respect for both parties. I’ve seen Oscar winners come out of left field.”
Sort of like that statement?
“I’m just saying Jennifer Hudson,” he added. “I’m not even saying…You asked me, is it OK to assume that an actor who doesn’t have as much skill can’t out-act an actor who is well-decorated? And what I’m saying is, if you take a moment to just analyze… No, I’m not intimidated in any way. Because there’s a shared passion and respect among all of us, and it’s the type of script that will allow all of us to shine.
“I don’t know if this is the one that would win me an Oscar or not. I’m going into it offering my interpretation and my hard work and my dedication to be the best Sugar Ray ever. Or as good as the man can be. I’ve spoken to him, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to live up to him. But I’ll try to be better than him.”
His stumbling around that answer almost worse than he did when he was in the court room and asked whether he slept with Tameka’s bridesmaids or not—we don’t know what to believe. Though Usher couldn’t talk about his custody battle with the Independent, an interesting tidbit that came out in the interview is that the woman Usher is currently dating, Grace Miguel, is also his manager. I guess he didn’t learn not to mix business and pleasure the first time around.
How do you think Usher will do as Sugar Ray Leonard?
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We say it all the time, and by we, I mean black people. Ever since Halle and Denzel took home their Oscars in 2002 for “Training Day” and “Monster’s Ball,” black people have felt the only time anyone of us could get an Oscar or even a nomination was to be the bad guy. That’s not quite the same as “trashy” but Michelle Rodriguez’s thinking appears to be along the same lines, hopefully.
In a recent interview with Vulture, Michelle was asked how she felt about Lee Daniel’s latest film The Paperboy which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and was definitely not a crowd pleaser:
“I loved The Paperboy!” she said before speaking on the negative reviews it received. “I say f*** them because they don’t get it. He’s so good at keeping me entertained. When I don’t like the dialogue, I’m amused by the visuals. And when I don’t like the visuals, I’m amused by the dialogue. It’s always switching up senses. I’m intrigued by his ability to capture me in a theater. It’s not easy to capture me in a theater — I’m ADD like that.”
But what about that scene where Nicole Kidman apparently urinates on Zac Efron before she has an orgasm?
“I f***ing loved it. One of my friends said, ‘She’s going to get nominated for an Oscar for that.’ I was like, ‘Nah, man. She’s not black!’ I laugh, but it’s also very sad. It makes me want to cry. But I really believe. You have to be trashy and black to get nominated. You can’t just be trashy.”
Perhaps her phrasing is a tad odd, but I think we get the point. Even when it comes to The Help, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer certainly weren’t trashy, but their characters weren’t symbols of one of the brightest aspects of African American history either, which is why there was so much mixed emotion about their sweeping nominations this past awards season. Michelle shouldn’t forget white actresses who have won for trashy parts though, like Charlize Theron who immediately comes to mind for the 2003 film Monster which won her 17 awards, including an Oscar for Best Actress.
I’m thinking Michelle Rodriguez might need more people for allowing herself to be quoted in a way that’s actually sort of trashy itself but I don’t know if that takes away from the fact that she has a point. What do you think about what she said?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Hey loves! I hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday weekend (especially if you have an extra day off) so far. It’ll be even better for me when I get an invite to a bbq that will have some slammin’ potato salad! Don’t everyone go commenting at one time! Anyhoo, some of your fave celebs have been having a GREAT weekend while others…not so much. Let’s see what grist they’ve given us for the mill this go ’round!
It certainly doesn’t have to be Black History Month to celebrate the achievements of some of yesterday’s, today’s and always classic superstars. This time we take a quick journey in the entertainment and sports fields (with maybe a little taste of “spice” on one or two of them). Of course, you’ll know some of them but what I’d REALLY love is if you’d add some in the comments section that maybe some of us didn’t know. Each one teach, one!
What goes up inevitably must come down. It’s the law of gravity by Isaac Newton, but he may as well have been talking about the peaks and valleys of celebrity life. Stars are made and seemingly replaced by brighter ones almost overnight and one can’t help but wish for the originals to reclaim their place in the spotlight. So many rise and fall, but here are seven stars who need to shine even brighter once more.
Her name and face have been all over the news for everything from her baby daddy drama, engagement to her questionable choice of lacefronts. Paula Patton seems to be Hollywood’s go to woman of color these days, but there’s still a place for Ms. Berry on the silver screen. Some may still debate whether or not she deserved her Oscar for Monster’s Ball, but she is still the first African-American actress to have been awarded the Best Actress statue, and that’s not by accident. It’s past time that she fully redeem herself from Catwoman with a role worthy of her talents.