Quvenzhané Wallis may be a long-shot to win an Oscar for Best Actress tonight, but she’s celebrating some big news today. Sony Pictures announced late Sunday morning that the Beasts of the Southern Wild star has landed the highly prized title role in its feature film adaptation of the classic musical Annie.
And she’s in some major A-list company, too: Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jay-Z are all signed on to produce the film. They’ve been on the hunt for a star to play the eponymous 11-year-old orphan with the heart of gold ever since the Smith’s daughter Willow Smith dropped out of the film.
Director Will Gluck (Friends with Benefits, Easy A) is currently re-writing the film’s screenplay, which has already been touched by some golden fingers: Actress and screenwriter Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) penned the first draft, which was then handed off to The Devil Wears Prada scribe Aline Brosh McKenna.
“Quvenzhané Wallis is a true star and we believe her portrayal as Annie will make her a true worldwide star,” said Hannah Minghella, president of production at Columbia Pictures, in a statement. “She is an extraordinary young talent with an amazing range, not only as an actress but as a singer and dancer, and we can’t wait for audiences to further discover her.” The film is pegged for release at the end of 2014.
One quick delightful epilogue: With only one other film — the upcoming fact-based period drama Twelve Years a Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (2012), Brad Pitt, and Michael Fassbender — under her belt, Sony Pictures chose to pad out Wallis’ official resume with the most adorable biographic information ever in a studio release:
“QUVENZHANÉ WALLIS’ favorite pastimes are reading, singing, dancing, acting, and playing her iPod and Nintendo DS. Her favorite TV stars/singers are China McClain, Selena Gomez, and Miley Cyrus. Her favorite sports are basketball, volleyball, dance and cheerleading.”