ByVaria Fedko-Blake, writer at
Staff Writer at Moviepilot! [email protected] Twitter: @vfedkoblake
Varia Fedko-Blake

This year, with the Academy Awards just around the corner, all eyes are most definitely on one of the youngest actors on the red carpet – 9-year-old Room star Jacob Tremblay. Over the last couple of weeks, the little guy has charmed his way through every major award ceremony and wowed us all with his endearingly honest and humorous approach to the entire experience.

Yet, he isn't the first youngster to steal the show or to pick up a highly-prized award (he was praised with a Critics' Choice Award earlier in January, as shown above.) In fact, over the decades, a slew of kids have walked down the red carpet after receiving nominations.

Despite their age and lack of experience, the following 12 actors and actresses actually started off their careers by being recognized by the Academy. This is all despite being under the age of 21 – years on, let's see how much they've changed and where they're at in 2016:

1. Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster had a stellar start in the film industry when she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1976. Although she was just 14, the Academy was right to regard her performance as noteworthy enough to potentially snag a gong for her role as Iris 'Easy' Steensma in Taxi Driver.

The actress didn't win but finally got her hands on a Best Actress statuette in 1988 for The Accused. She's still acting today.

2. Tatum O'Neal

Adorable 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal starred as Addie Loggins in Paper Moon and in 1973, she was nominated for her performance in the Best Supporting Actress category and actually won! Since her childhood days though, she has been rather absent in the acting world, although she did have a small role as Dakota Fanning's mother in The Runways.

3. Anna Paquin

When she was just 11-years-old, tiny Anna Paquin won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Holly Hunter's daughter in The Piano. Here's the wonderful moment that changed her life forever – she's so taken back, she's literally rendered speechless:

4. Justin Henry

As an 8-year-old, little Justin was honored with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor by the Academy for his role as Billy in Kramer vs. Kramer. He took to the red carpet with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, but sadly the youngster didn't win.

Decades later and he's no longer in the industry spotlight and instead, works for a digital media company.

5. Quvenzhané Wallis

In 2013, Quvenzhané Wallis was the Oscars' smallest nominee. At just 9-years-old, the little lady waltzed down the Academy Awards red carpet in attempts to secure the Best Actress accolade for her role as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild:

With a nomination under her belt, the talented actress has a very bright future ahead of her.

6. Abigail Breslin

In 2006, Little Miss Sunshine hit the big screens, starring Abigail Breslin as the head-strong, beauty pageant obsessed Olive Hoover. The same year she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the role and although she didn't nab the top prize, it kickstarted her career. Today she continues to frequent award ceremonies as a star on the rise.

7. Haley Joel Osment

In the '90s, Haley Joel Osment was the golden child of cinema and in 1999, the Academy decided to recognize his adorable face as such with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for The Sixth Sense. He was 11.

Sadly he didn't win but continued to act over the years, as well as earn a prestigious degree from NYU's Tisch School of Arts later in 2010. Today, he continues to star in small budget projects but unfortunately, these are nothing worthy of another Oscar nomination.

8. Saoirse Ronan

When she was just 13 in 2007, Irish actress Saoirse Ronan picked up a Best Supporting Actress nom for her part in Atonement.

Although she didn't get to ascend the podium to accept the golden statue, she went on to star in a myriad of blockbusters, including The Lovely Bones, Hanna, The Grand Budapest Hotel and most recently, Brooklyn. For the latter, she's up for the Best Actress award this coming ceremony. Here's the trailer:

9. Hailee Steinfeld

At 14, Hailee Steinfeld's precocious turn in the The Coen Brothers's western True Grit earned her a prestigious Oscar nomination, despite the fact that it was her first movie ever. Back then, she said:

"I woke up to hear my parents screaming in the other room. "They had the TV up really loud. I was in complete shock. I really didn't know what to think. Am I dreaming? It's crazy, it's such a surreal feeling."

Despite not winning on the night, the Hollywood darling has gone on participate in a number of big projects and has even released a single. I'm sure big things are in store for her in the future!

10. Leonardo DiCaprio

Back before he stole our hearts in Titanic and was catapulted to stratospheric fame, Leo was already an Academy Award nominee for his role of mentally-impaired youngster Arnie in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? at the age of 19. Over two decades on, despite being hot Hollywood property, he hasn't yet been recognized for his achievements. Let's hope this is the year that he scoops up the gong for Best Actor for The Revenant:

11. Mary Badham

Back in 1962, Mary Badham held the spot for one of the youngest actresses ever nominated to receive a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Here she is in the above picture at the ceremony with lead Gregory Peck.

Today, Mary is no longer in the acting profession and instead, works as an art restorer.

12. Patty Duke

Back in 1962, Patty Duke shone at the Academy Awards when she picked up an Oscar for Best Actress for her part in The Miracle Worker. Here she is as a 16-year-old being introduced by legend Frank Sinatra:

Since her monumental win, Patty went on to star in numerous made-for-TV movies and in recent years, has been dedicated to spreading awareness about mental health issues such as bipolar disorder. I bet she remembers her winning Oscars moment like it was yesterday though!

Which child star wowed you the most with their performance?


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