"I like it when people take pictures of me," she says. "I like the lights." After all, she has been in the business for all of three years. She auditioned for the Beasts role when she was 5, shot the film and is rocking the media interview circuit (which included a stop at 9NEWS) at the wise old age of 8.
What she lacks in life years, she more than makes up for in her spellbinding performance in the haunting Beasts -- she plays Hushpuppy, a young girl learning to survive on her own in her Delta community home.
First-time director Benh Zeitlin's drama won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance and has already wowed audiences in France during Cannes, and there is already Oscar talk about the film.
Wallis' performance has critics predicting that she could make a run for best actress even in a strong field at the festival.
But away from the screen, a particularly loving spotlight has been cast on the precocious Wallis, who has beamed through every photocall and gamely holds her own during interviews with adult reporters (without the usual stage parent watching over every word).
"The French people love her," says Dwight Henry, who plays her ailing father in the film after emerging from an arm-wrestling match with Wallis ("She threw me down," he says).
"That girl has an aura about herself. She's always happy and laughing. She's always making other people happy. You cannot help but to love her when you meet her."
"And she's very smart," he adds. "She's the perfect package of a lot of good things."
Zeitlin found Wallis after looking at nearly 4,000 youngsters for the part. His gamble paid off.
"She's just a natural performer," he says. "She was born to do this."
Wallis admits she likes the business, but is torn between becoming an actress and a dentist. Or maybe both.
"I do want to clean teeth," she admits. "But being a dentist might also help because then I can clean my own teeth. Then I can go do movies with clean teeth."
Of course, the movie business doesn't always have sparkle. Wallis found the after-party for Beasts at the Cannes Film Festival to be a little on the boring side.
"It was a social party, there was no dancing," she says.
So Wallis took a nap at the party rather than take part in industry talk.
"There was really nothing more to talk about," she says with a shrug.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)