She was just five when she first auditioned for the film's lead role of Hushpuppy, a little girl struggling to survive with her ailing father in the southern Delta as a storm approaches.
Despite never having watched the Oscars, Quvenzhane will find herself at next month's ceremony.
"I woke up, and (my mother) said, 'You've been nominated! You're nominated!'" she recalls. "I was like, 'Oh my God!' But it was on the inside. It wasn't on the outside."
When it comes to fashion, Quvenzhane is open to wearing "all colours except for black by itself" on the big day, and she's not interested in wearing a really long gown.
"I might step on it," she explains, matter-of-factly.