Quvenzhané is 11 years old. She was nominated for her Best Actress Oscar for a role she played when she was 5.
The nomination broke all records. She was the youngest nominee ever, the tenth African American and the first nominee born in the 21st century. To say she is talented is an understatement.
“Quvenzhané” is pronounced “Kwah-ven-zha-nay,” as the girl has said herself in interview after interview. Yet instead of raising her on a pedestal of talent, media are not even bothering to learn her own name.
An AP reporter once said to her face, “I’m just going to call you Annie.” Ryan Seacrest and his team at the Oscars called her “Little Q.” Ricky Gervais, just last week at the Golden Globes, made a big deal of pronouncing her name correctly and then butchered it on national television.
This is not a pronunciation issue. This is, though most don’t want to think about it, a race issue. If the majority of the world can learn how to pronounce “Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky” and “Arnold Schwarzenegger” and make fun of those who mispronounce them, they why can’t they take five seconds to learn Wallis’ name?
It’s the same reason “Annie” received poor Twitter reviews. People refused to look past race to realize that something fresh and modern was being created out of one of the oldest, most overdone musicals in the business.
Wallis is a remarkable person who refuses to be manipulated by the media and pitted against other actresses. She is a child who is learning her craft in a world that is bent on attacking her, and her courage and resilience is something that inspires millions. If she keeps going the way she’s going, she’ll get the respect she deserves. But the fact this article had to be written at all is a little disheartening.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Quvenzhane Wallis arrives at the 6th Annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon at Beverly Hills Hotel on February 21, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)