The last few weeks of Quvenzhané Wallis‘ life have been tumultuous enough that most adults three times her age would have trouble keeping a smile on their faces. There’s been the sudden stardom at age 9, the Oscars, widespread recognition as a great and promising young actress, and even scandal and bullying. But armed with a puppy purse and some good, protective people around her, Quvenzhané has smiled through it all and set out on one of the most exciting acting careers in a long time.
Her next film, Twelve Years a Slave, is in post-production and her co-stars are none other than Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, and Benedict Cumberbatch. I’m guessing that her mom and her mom’s friends were all visiting the set as often as possible. It was announced the other day that Wallis will star in a remake of Annie, which will be due out in 2014. The remake is being produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z, who will also be in charge of music for the film.
I’m excited to see this version, though not at all looking forward to trying to avoid reading or hearing the inevitable backlash against an African-American girl playing a role that was originally performed by a redheaded white girl. Annie was one of my favorite movies as a kid. The red hair definitely appealed to me, but I admired Annie’s innate sense of right and wrong, her ability to see the good in people, her tenacity, and her hope. Plus, I now know exactly what to say when the President asks me for advice.
Annie’s qualities all seem to be a lot of the same ones that Wallis possesses. I’d like to see her re-imagine a few other classic young heroines that were favorites of mine as a kid:
A Little Princess
Reading the plot of this story now, I’m a little bothered by some of the themes in it, but I think the fantasy that we might actually be princesses is one that a lot of little girls entertain. There’s that satisfying feeling that one day everyone will see how wrong they were about you, but you won’t even hold a grudge because you’re just that awesome.
The Secret Garden
This story could easily be dismissed as one of “poor little rich girl,” but the idea of a special place that is all your own is a magical one, especially for a young girl who has trouble fitting in.
The Wizard of Oz
This is a project that Wallis could maybe tackle a few years from now since there’s already an Oz-centric movie due out soon, and Dorothy seems to need to be a little older. But again here the themes are timeless and invaluable: be good, do right by others, and if you ever go looking for your heart’s desire, don’t look any further than your own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, you never really lost it to begin with.
What other classic roles do you think Wallis would be perfect for?