After grabbing our attention with her strong and Oscar nominated performance in Beast of the Southern Wild, 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis has secured the lead role in Overbrook Entertainment's adaptation of the beloved stage musical Annie. She fills the spot originally planned for Willow Smith, who outgrew the role in the time that's passed since the project first began development.

The announcement was made today that young Wallis will play the title role in the adaptation, which is being produced by James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith (for Overbrook), as well as Shawn "Jay Z" Carter, Jay Brown and Tyran "Ty Ty Smith, through Marcy Media. With Overbrook and the Smith's involvement, Willow might seem like the obvious choice for the lead. However, we learned late last month that, while she was originally attached, she's now a bit too old to play the young orphan who finds her way out of poverty and into the heart of a billionaire. At that time, we also learned that Easy A's Will Gluck signed on to direct the new adaptation.

Originally based on a popular comic strip Little Orphan Annie, Annie went on to become a hit Broadway musical in the late 70s, telling the story of an orphan during the Great Depression. The musical has since seen two major adaptations, the first being the 1982 feature film, which included a top notch cast that included Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters. As a child of the 80s, I will always associate Burnett, just a little bit, with her role as the oft-inebriated, occasionally abusive but somehow strangely likable Miss Hannigan. More recently (relatively speaking), the film was remade in 1999 for a TV movie, with Victor Garber, Kathy Bates and Alan Cumming.

Previous reports on this adaptation, which is aiming for a Fall 2014 release, say that this will be a contemporary re-imagining of the story. Whether or not it's also a musical seems unclear, but at the very least, we know it has a strong lead. And considering the buzz Wallis has been getting for her portrayal of the small but strong and determined Hushpuppy in Beast of the Southern Wild, she seems like a great fit for this role.

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