Following the announcement that 12-year old Willow Smith is no longer headlining the Annie remake that her parents (Will and Jada Pinkett Smith) and Jay-Z are producing, nine-year old Quvenzhané Wallis – the youngest person ever nominated for an Academy Award, for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild – seemed an obvious choice to replace her in a contemporary re-imagining of the musical (with Jay-Z infusing the original songs with more hip-hop flavor, a la his “Hard Knock Life” remix).
Sure enough, reports are now circulating that Wallis is being considered to join the production, which is now moving actively moving forward once more – with Will Gluck (Easy A, Friends with Benefits) onboard to direct.
As for the sure-to-be-made-an-issue surrounding the casting of Wallis in the Annie role (which is traditionally played by a red-haired actress): it’s happened before – when Broadway actress India Scandrick became the first African-American to play the character onstage – and, ultimately, Annie’s ethnicity is separate from what defines her as a pop cultural icon (see: Screen Rant‘s Kofi Outlaw on ‘Changing Face: Diversity & Change’). The character requires in-your-face pluckiness and unbridled spirit, which Wallis is perfectly capable of handling.
Annie is currently undergoing script revisions, as Gluck revamps previous drafts from Oscar-winning actress/screenwriter Emma Thompson (Sense & Sensibility, Beautiful Creatures) and Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada). Filming is expected to begin this Fall, ahead of a late 2014 theatrical release.