Wednesday was quite a day for nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis. After the heady excitement of receiving an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress category – something most Hollywood stars spend their whole careers dreaming of – the little girl won the Best Young Actor/Actress award at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards.
When her name was read out, the Beasts of the Southern Wild star almost spent more time hugging director Benh Zeitlin than she did giving her acceptance speech.
When the cute youngster finally released the filmmaker from her grasp she strutted on to the stage and got out her mobile phone to read her notes, drawing laughs from the audience.
"Thanks to Mr Benh Zeitlin and the Court 13 family for thinking I could make a good Hushpuppy," she said, referring to the character she plays in the film which has catapulted her to stardom. Quvenzhane also thanked God and finished by saying: "Last to my family, friends, and fans. Good night."
The confident little girl has seemingly taken everything in her stride. When her name was read out during the Oscar nominations ceremony on Wednesday morning, she became the youngest ever nominee and became the big talking point of the 2013 ceremony shortlist.
Critics have been praising her performance ever since Beasts of the Southern Wild took the coveded Camera d’Or at prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May. She stars as Hushpuppy, a little girl who is forced to go looking for her lost mother after her father becomes seriously ill, causing a series of extraordinary events to unfold.
Many were surprised that the little girl could pull off such a competent performance at such a young age, and in her first ever film role.
Director Benh auditioned her at school, and became convinced she was right for the part after asking her to throw a stuffed animal at the producer she was trying out her lines with. Quvenzhane told him: "It's not right to throw things at people you don't know.”
The filmmaker explained: “She was being defiant, but she was being defiant on the grounds of right and wrong. And that's who Hushpuppy is. She's this incredibly defiant warrior girl. I don't think I could have articulated that about her character until that moment in the audition."
Other Oscar nominees at the Critic's Choice ceremony included Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, who also picked up a trophy. She won Best Supporting Actress – receiving hugs from Hugh and fellow Les Miserables co-star Amanda Seyfried before making her way up to the stage to collect it.