Quvenzhané Wallis: “I wanted Crystal to be amazing”

In the memory of movie lovers, the image of Quvenzhané Wallis dates back to 2012 when At just 9 years old, she became the youngest actress to be nominated for an Oscar for her masterful performance in the film Beasts of the Wild South, where she played little Hushpuppy.

Nine years after that milestone, the interpreter, now an 18-year-old teenager, returns to the screen via streaming as one of the protagonists of Swagger, the Apple TV + series where she plays Crystal, a young basketball player who must face not only sporting challenges, but what it means to be a woman in a sport associated with men. “I think Crystal comes from several real people, there are many experiences that are combined, that create this idea that says what it means to be a woman in this world in which she moves,” says the actress through Zoom.

In fact, the role came out at a time when he was not successful in any casting. He had done Annie (2014) and Daughers & Fathers (2015), to name a few tapes, but it seemed that it was going to happen to be one more statistic of the young stars that fall into oblivion. “He had been going through a rough time before joining the cast of Swagger. I auditioned a lot, but they said ‘no’, or that they had found someone else. I hadn’t given up, but I was pulling out of auditions in general. Then came Swagger but when i saw that it was about basketball I’m not happy. But my mother and my family told me: ‘Just try it’, so I did, I stayed and the director put a lot of trust and faith in me, ”he reveals.

The challenge came later: to play a sport he had never done before, and to become Crystal, a basketball star. “I have never played basketball, but for this project I went to a lot of practice. I’m a little hard on myself, so I worked a lot. He was always like ‘let’s do it again to do our best’. She had never played before and on top of that she was like the only woman dancing with the other teammates in the cast. I wanted Crystal to be great, better than the boys, I wanted her to be incredible, “he says.

The challenge of her role also had a personal nuance for her as a woman and of African descent. “I had someone very close to me in my family who actually has the same story as Crystal. She’s super cool, but people used to bring her down just because she was female or because of how she looked. So for me Crystal is very important, because people have to understand that because you are a girl, it does not change your skills, or your direction or your determination, it does not change anything. It’s just my gender and I can work so hard and hard that you, I can defeat you. “

That is why Quvenzhané Wallis loves her role in the series. “The favorite part of my character is our similarities, I want to think that I have challenges, but I love Crystal’s Swagger, her decisiveness, her determination, that’s my favorite part of her. I don’t know which is the favorite ‘no’, I love her, she is close to my heart ”, he assures.

Another thing that has added to his participation in Swagger is the vision he now has of basketball players. “Today I perceive more personality in the game, I understand more all the work they put in. I train for the series, but they train for their career. Is awesome. I like to see how they interact on the court and how people react to things that happen there.