Sixteen-year-old Rachel Mwanza is headed to Hollywood.
At this year’s Oscars, many will be watching to see if 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis’ will take home the award for Best Actress. But among the talent in the audience, another young Black actress will also be waiting to see if her debut performance was worthy of an Academy Award.
Rachel Mwanza, the 16-year-old star of the Oscar nominated foreign film War Witch, was recently granted a visa that will allow her to travel from her native Democratic Republic of Congo to the U.S. to attend the Oscars and rub elbows with some of Hollywood’s brightest stars.
In the French-language film (titled Rebelle in French) Mwanza plays a 12-year-old girl who is abducted and forced to become a child soldier. Although the role is her first, Mwanza has already won Best Actress nods in the Berlin Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.
"Rachel's story is truly a Cinderella tale — abandoned by her family and living on the streets as a child, her life has been transformed by the making of the film," Canadian director Kim Nguyen said in a statement released by Tribeca Film. "To have her journey end on the red carpet is beyond anything she could have dreamed of."
Her reps say Mwanza is elated to make the trip and for her film to be recognized internationally, but what she is really hoping for is the chance to meet her idol: Beyoncé.
"That's all she talks about," producer Marie-Claude Poulin told the L.A. Times. "The only English words she knows are Beyoncé and Rihanna songs."
"She's traveled to Paris, Berlin and Canada for the opening of the film, but I think this coming to Hollywood tops it all for her," Poulin said.
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(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)