Young Artist Award for Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film

The Young Artist Award for Best Performance by a Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film is one of the Young Artist Awards presented annually by the Young Artist Association to recognize a young actress under the age of 21, who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role while working within the film industry.[1][2][3][4] In its early years, the award was also known as the Youth in Film Award for Best Young Actress Starring in a Motion Picture,[5] as well as by numerous other variations to its title over the years, however, the spirit of the award has remained essentially the same since its inception. Winners are selected by secret ballot of the 125 members of the Young Artist Association as well as former Youth in Film Award/Young Artist Award winners.[4][6]

Young Artist Award for
Best Leading Young Actress
in a Feature Film
Awarded forOutstanding performance by a
juvenile actress in a leading role in a feature film
CountryUnited States of America
Presented byYoung Artist Association
First awarded1979 (for performances in films released during the 1978/1979 season)
Currently held byTie: Kathryn Newton,
Paranormal Activity 4
& Quvenzhané Wallis,
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)


Throughout the past 34 years, accounting for ties, category splits, and repeat winners, the Young Artist Association has presented a total of 44 "Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film" awards to 40 different actresses. Winners of the award receive the traditional Young Artist Award statuette; a gilded figure of a man displaying a star above its head, reminiscent of a miniature child-sized Oscar.[7][8][9] The first recipient was Diane Lane, who was honored at the 1st Youth in Film Awards ceremony (1979) for her performance in A Little Romance.[10] The most recent recipients are Kathryn Newton and Quvenzhané Wallis who tied at the 34th Young Artist Awards for their toles in Paranormal Activity 4 and Beasts of the Southern Wild respectively.[11]

Throughout the history of the award, the "Best Young Actress in a Feature Film" category has been "split" several times. Until the 3rd Youth in Film Awards ceremony (1981), nominations for the "Best Young Actress in a Feature Film" award included all actresses, regardless of whether the performance could be perceived to be in either a leading or supporting role.[12] At the 4th Youth in Film Awards ceremony (1982), however, the "Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film" category (not listed on this page) was specifically introduced as a separate award.[13]

In the late 1980s, the category was split for three ceremonies; the 9th Youth In Film Awards ceremony (1987), the 10th Youth in Film Awards ceremony (1988), and the 15th Youth in Film Awards ceremony (1993).[14][15][16] During these three years, the Young Artist Association split the category into a total of four sub-categories; "Best Young Female Superstar in a Motion Picture", "Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture: Drama", "Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture: Comedy or Fantasy", and "Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture: Horror or Mystery" (all listed on this page).[14][15][16] However, the association would once again "merge" these various sub-categories back together after the 15th Youth in Film Awards.[17][18]

Beginning with the 14th Youth in Film Awards, the association once again split the category, this time creating a new category to recognize young film actresses age 10 and under in their own separate category.[19] The "Best Young Actress Age 10 and Under in a Feature Film" category (not listed on this page) would become a permanent fixture of the Young Artist Awards and, as of 2012, is still awarded annually.[20] Despite the creation of the "10 and Under" category, some "leading" young actresses under the age of 10 have continued to be nominated as "Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film".[21]


Although today the Young Artist Association has strict age requirements regarding which nominees are eligible for a Young Artist Award nomination, the association did not originally have such specific age restrictions. Today, candidates eligible for a Young Artist Award nomination must be between the ages of 5 and 21 at the time of principal production of the project for which they are nominated.[4] However, the eldest winner of the "Best Young Actress in a Feature Film" award is Lea Thompson, who was 26 years old the night she won for her performance in Some Kind of Wonderful at the 9th Youth in Film Awards ceremony (1987).[14] The youngest winner of a "Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film" award is Robin Weisman, who was 6 years old the night she won for her performance in Three Men and a Little Lady at the 12th Youth in Film Awards ceremony (1990).[22]

The following list of superlatives is of winners/nominees in the "Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film" category. Wins/nominations in other Young Artist Award feature film categories, such as "Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film", "Best Young Actress Age 10 and Under in a Feature Film", and "Best Leading Young Actress in an International Feature Film", are not included.

Superlative winners/nominees are listed alphabetically.

Superlative Actress Wins Nominations
Actresses with most "Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film" winsThora Birch2 wins4 nominations
Anna Chlumsky2 wins2 nominations
Dakota Fanning2 wins5 nominations
Diane Lane2 wins3 nominations
Actress with most "Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film" nominationsDakota Fanning2 wins5 nominations
Actress with most "Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film" nominations
(without winning)
Christina Ricci0 wins4 nominations

Winners and nominees

For the first twenty-three ceremonies, due to the numerous "Television" awards also presented by the Young Artist Association, the eligibility period spanned two calendar years to recognize the traditional television season.[10][23] For example, the 1st Youth in Film Awards, presented in October 1979, recognized performers who appeared on television shows and in feature films that were released between September 1, 1978 and August 31, 1979. Starting with the 24th Young Artist Awards, presented in March 2003, the period of eligibility became the full previous calendar year, from January 1 to December 31, similar to the eligibility requirement used by the Academy Awards.[24]

Following the Young Artist Association's practice, the films below are listed by year of their qualifying run, which is the year the film was released in the United States, and not by the date of the ceremony, which has traditionally taken place the following calendar year beginning with the 10th Youth in Film Awards ceremony which recognized performances during the 1987/1988 season and took place in 1989.

  indicates the winner(s)


Year Actress Film Studio
1978 / 1979
Diane LaneA Little RomanceWarner Bros.
Trini AlvaradoRich KidsUnited Artists
Mariel HemingwayManhattanUnited Artists
Patsy KensitHanover StreetColumbia Pictures
Brooke ShieldsJust You and Me, KidColumbia Pictures
Cindy SmithBenji's Very Own Christmas StoryMulberry Square Productions


Year Actress Film Studio
1979 / 1980
Diane LaneTouched by LoveSony Pictures
Jodie FosterFoxesUnited Artists
Kristy McNicholLittle DarlingsParamount Pictures
Brooke ShieldsThe Blue LagoonColumbia Pictures
1980 / 1981
Kristy McNicholOnly When I LaughColumbia Pictures
Melissa Sue AndersonHappy Birthday to MeColumbia Pictures
Shelby BalikThe Incredible Shrinking WomanUniversal Studios
Mara HobelMommie DearestParamount Pictures
Kyle RichardsThe Watcher in the WoodsWalt Disney Pictures
Brooke ShieldsEndless LoveColumbia Pictures
1981 / 1982
Aileen QuinnAnnieColumbia Pictures
Bridgette AndersenSavannah SmilesEmbassy Pictures
Michelle PfeifferGrease 2Paramount Pictures
1982 / 1983
Roxana ZalTable for FiveWarner Bros.
Katherine HealySix WeeksUniversal Pictures
Diane LaneRumble FishUniversal Pictures
Ally SheedyWarGamesMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
1983 / 1984
Molly RingwaldSixteen CandlesUniversal Pictures
Drew BarrymoreIrreconcilable DifferencesWarner Bros.
Alison EastwoodTightropeWarner Bros.
Christina NigraCloak & DaggerUniversal Pictures
Roxana ZalTestamentParamount Pictures
1984 / 1985
Meredith SalengerThe Journey of Natty GannWalt Disney Pictures
Fairuza BalkReturn to OzWalt Disney Pictures
Drew BarrymoreCat's EyeMGM/UA
Joyce HyserJust One of the GuysColumbia Pictures
Amanda PetersonExplorersParamount Pictures
1985 / 1986
Laura JacobyRadTriStar Pictures
Lucy DeakinsThe Boy Who Could FlyMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Kerri GreenLucas20th Century Fox
Melora HardinPapa Was a PreacherLaRose Productions
Elisabeth HarnoisOne Magic ChristmasWalt Disney Pictures
Robyn LivelyWildcatsWarner Bros.
Alyssa MilanoCommando20th Century Fox
Heather O'RourkePoltergeist II: The Other SideMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
1986 / 1987
Superstar: Lisa BonetAngel HeartTriStar Pictures
Martha PlimptonThe Mosquito CoastWarner Bros.
Kristy SwansonDeadly FriendWarner Bros.
Drama: Lea ThompsonSome Kind of WonderfulParamount Pictures
J. L. ReateThe Golden ChildParamount Pictures
Ione SkyeRiver's EdgeHemdale/Island Pictures
Comedy: Maia BrewtonAdventures in BabysittingBuena Vista/Touchstone Pictures
Tina CasparyCan't Buy Me LoveTouchstone Pictures
Margaret LangrickHarry and the HendersonsUniversal Studios
Amanda PetersonCan't Buy Me LoveTouchstone Pictures
Horror: Christa DentonThe GateAlliance Entertainment
Carrie LorraineDollsEmpire Pictures
Jill SchoelenThe StepfatherNew Century Vista Film Company
1987 / 1988
Drama: Hayley Taylor-BlockTouch of a StrangerRaven Star
Annabeth GishMystic PizzaThe Samuel Goldwyn Company
Laura Jane GoodwinCrystalstoneMoviestore Entertainment
Marcie LeedsBeachesTouchstone Pictures
Mindy McEnnanWorld Gone WildApollo Pictures
Martha PlimptonRunning on EmptyWarner Bros.
Julia RobertsMystic PizzaThe Samuel Goldwyn Company
Meredith SalengerA Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon20th Century Fox
Comedy/Fantasy: Mayim BialikBeachesTouchstone Pictures
Tina CasparyMac and MeOrion Pictures
Angela GoethalsHeartbreak HotelTouchstone Pictures
Heather GrahamLicense to Drive20th Century Fox
Alyson HanniganMy Stepmother Is an AlienColumbia Pictures
Lauren StanleyMac and MeOrion Pictures
Horror/Mystery: Kristy SwansonFlowers in the AtticNew World Pictures
Jennifer BankoFriday the 13th Part VII: The New BloodParamount Pictures
Paula IrvinePhantasm IIUniversal Studios
Marcie LeedsNear DarkAnchor Bay Entertainment
Ebonie SmithLethal WeaponWarner Bros.
Shawnee SmithThe BlobTriStar Pictures
Brooke TheissA Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream MasterNew Line Cinema
1988 / 1989
Winona RyderGreat Balls of Fire!Orion Pictures
Blaze BerdahlPet SemataryParamount Pictures
Rebecca HarrellPrancerOrion Pictures
Jenny LewisThe WizardUniversal Studios
Robyn LivelyTeen WitchMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Sarah PolleyThe Adventures of Baron MunchausenColumbia Pictures


Year Actress Film Studio
1989 / 1990
Robin WeismanThree Men and a Little LadyTouchstone Pictures
Kimberly CullumThe RaptureNew Line Cinema
Brooke FontaineGhost DadUniversal Pictures
Staci KeananLisaUnited Artists
Lexi Faith RandallThe Long Walk HomeMiramax Films
1990 / 1991
Thora BirchParadiseBuena Vista Pictures
Mikki AllenRegarding HenryParamount Pictures
Angela GoethalsV.I. WarshawkiBuena Vista Pictures
Heather GrahamShoutUniversal Studios
Milla JovovichReturn to the Blue LagoonColumbia Pictures
Reese WitherspoonMan in the MoonMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
1991 / 1992
Alisan PorterCurly SueWarner Bros.
Thora BirchAll I Want for ChristmasParamount Pictures
Samantha MathisThis Is My Life20th Century Fox
Christina RicciThe Addams FamilyParamount Pictures
Meadow SistoCaptain RonTouchstone Pictures
Nicholle TomBeethovenUniversal Studios
1992 / 1993
Drama: Ariana RichardsJurassic ParkUniversal Studios
Clarissa LassigA Home of Our OwnGramercy Pictures
Kate MaberlyThe Secret GardenWarner Bros.
Remy RyanRoboCop 3Orion Pictures
Alicia SilverstoneThe CrushWarner Bros.
Comedy: Thora Birch (tie)Hocus PocusWalt Disney Pictures
Comedy: Christina Vidal (tie)Life with MikeyTouchstone Pictures
Senta MosesHome Alone 2: Lost in New York20th Century Fox
Amy SakasitzDennis the MenaceWarner Bros.
Vinessa ShawHocus PocusWalt Disney Pictures
Madeline ZimaMr. NannyNew Line Cinema
1993 / 1994
Anna ChlumskyMy Girl 2Columbia Pictures
Alana AustinA Simple Twist of FateTouchstone Pictures
Zelda HarrisCrooklynUniversal Studios
Katherine HeiglMy Father the HeroTouchstone Pictures
1994 / 1995
Anna ChlumskyGold Diggers: The Secret of Bear MountainUniversal Studios
Vanessa Lee ChesterA Little PrincessWarner Bros.
Claire DanesHome for the HolidaysParamount Pictures
Kirsten DunstJumanjiTriStar Pictures
Nicole LundGold Diggers: The Secret of Bear MountainUniversal Studios
Liesel MatthewsA Little PrincessWarner Bros.
Christina RicciCasperUniversal Studios
Alicia SilverstoneCluelessParamount Pictures
1995 / 1996
Michelle TrachtenbergHarriet the SpyParamount Pictures
Thora BirchAlaskaColumbia Pictures
Heather MatarazzoWelcome to the DollhouseSony Pictures Classics
Anna PaquinFly Away HomeColumbia Pictures
Mara WilsonMatildaTriStar Pictures
1996 / 1997
Mara WilsonA Simple WishUniversal Pictures
Jennifer Love HewittI Know What You Did Last SummerColumbia Pictures
Florence HoathFairy Tale: A True StoryParamount Pictures
Christina RicciThat Darn CatWalt Disney Pictures
Jurnee SmollettEve's BayouTrimark Pictures
1997 / 1998
Lindsay Lohan (tie)The Parent TrapWalt Disney Pictures
Jena Malone (tie)StepmomColumbia Pictures
Kirsten DunstSmall SoldiersDreamWorks
Jennifer Love HewittCan't Hardly WaitColumbia Pictures
Scarlett JohanssonThe Horse WhispererTouchstone Pictures
Emily LipomaFrog and WombatPigtail Productions
Leelee SobieskiA Soldier's Daughter Never CriesOctober Films
Katie StuartFrog and WombatPigtail Productions
1998 / 1999
Kimberly J. BrownTumbleweedsFine Line Features
Brittany MurphyGirl, InterruptedColumbia Pictures
Natalie PortmanAnywhere but Here20th Century Fox
Christina RicciSleepy HollowParamount Pictures
Michelle WilliamsDickTriStar Pictures


Year Actress Film Studio
1999 / 2000
Elizabeth HuettSocial MisfitsOur Way Productions
Kirsten DunstBring It OnUniversal Studios
Natalie PortmanWhere the Heart Is20th Century Fox
Jamie Renée SmithMVP: Most Valuable PrimateKeystone Family Pictures
Mara WilsonThomas and the Magic RailroadDestination Films
2000 / 2001
Scarlett Johansson (tie)An American RhapsodyParamount Classics
Emma Watson (tie)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneWarner Bros.
Hayden PanettiereJoe Somebody20th Century Fox
Alexa VegaSpy Kids 2: The Island of Lost DreamsBuena Vista Pictures
Amanda BynesBig Fat LiarUniversal Studios
America FerreraReal Women Have CurvesNewmarket Films/HBO Films
Kristen StewartPanic RoomColumbia Pictures
Evan Rachel WoodLittle SecretsColumbia TriStar/Samuel Goldwyn
Jenna BoydThe MissingRevolution Studios
Dakota FanningThe Cat in the HatUniversal Studios
Rachel Hurd-WoodPeter PanUniversal Studios
Lindsay LohanFreaky FridayWalt Disney Pictures
Evan Rachel WoodThe MissingUniversal Pictures
Emmy RossumThe Phantom of the OperaWarner Bros.
Emily BrowningLemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate EventsParamount Pictures/DreamWorks
Dakota FanningMan on Fire20th Century Fox
Carly SchroederMean CreekParamount Classics
Alexa VegaSleepoverMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Dakota FanningDreamerDreamWorks
Taylor DooleyThe Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-DColumbia Pictures
Jordan-Claire GreenCome Away HomeHaven Films
Q'orianka KilcherThe New WorldNew Line Cinema
AnnaSophia RobbBecause of Winn-Dixie20th Century Fox
Keke PalmerAkeelah and the BeeLionsgate
Keisha Castle-HughesThe Nativity StoryNew Line Cinema
Dakota FanningCharlotte's WebParamount Pictures
Brie LarsonHootNew Line Cinema
Sara PaxtonAquamarineFox 2000 Pictures
Emily RiosQuinceañeraSony Pictures
AnnaSophia RobbBridge to TerabithiaBuena Vista Pictures
Gracie BednarczykGrace Is GoneThe Weinstein Company
Abigail BreslinNo ReservationsWarner Bros.
Isamar GonzalesChop ShopKoch-Lorber Films
Kay PanabakerMoondance Alexander20th Century Fox
Dakota Blue RichardsThe Golden CompassNew Line Cinema
Emma RobertsNancy DrewWarner Bros.
Saoirse RonanAtonementFocus Features
Dakota FanningThe Secret Life of BeesFox Searchlight
Abigail BreslinKit Kittredge: An American GirlNew Line Cinema
Madeline CarrollSwing VoteWalt Disney Pictures
Georgie HenleyThe Chronicles of Narnia: Prince CaspianWalt Disney Pictures
Keke PalmerThe LongshotsMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Abigail BreslinMy Sister's KeeperNew Line Cinema
Emma RobertsHotel for DogsDreamWorks/Paramount Pictures
Saoirse RonanThe Lovely BonesDreamWorks
Yara ShahidiImagine ThatParamount Pictures
Jolie VanierShortsWarner Bros.


Year Actress Film Studio
Hailee SteinfeldTrue GritParamount Pictures
Delanie ArmstrongLavanderiaStauros Entertainment
Elle FanningThe Nutcracker in 3DFreestyle Releasing
Jennifer LawrenceWinter's BoneRoadside Attractions
Chloë Grace MoretzKick-AssUniversal Pictures
Chloë Grace MoretzHugoColumbia Pictures
Jordana BeattyJudy Moody and the Not Bummer SummerRelativity Media
Elle FanningSuper 8Paramount Pictures
Saoirse RonanHannaFocus Features
Ariel WinterThe ChaperoneSamuel Goldwyn Films
Kathryn Newton (tie)Paranormal Activity 4Paramount Pictures
Quvenzhané Wallis (tie)Beasts of the Southern WildFox Searchlight Pictures
Tara Lynne BarrGod Bless AmericaMagnolia Pictures
Kara HaywardMoonrise KingdomFocus Features
Sophie Nélisse (tie)The Book Thief20th Century Fox
Loreto Peralta (tie)Instructions Not IncludedPantelion Films
Annalise BassoStanding UpAldamisa Entertainment
Megan CharpentierMamaUniversal Pictures
Abigail HargroveWorld War ZParamount Pictures

See also


  1. Crouse, Richard (2005). Reel Winners (illustrated ed.). Dundurn Press Ltd. pp. 42–43. ISBN 9781550025743.
  2. Riggs, Thomas (2007). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. 74. Gale / Cengage Learning. ISBN 9780787690472.
  3. "KABC-TV - Budding stars shine at Young Artist Awards". Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  4. "Young Artist Awards - Nomination Submission Requirements". Archived from the original on 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  5. "11th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Archived from the original on 2014-04-09. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  6. "PopStar - 30th Annual Young Artist Awards". Archived from the original on 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  7. "The Kiddie Oscars". The Evening Standard. 2001-03-30.
  8. "HFPA Golden Globes - Young Artist Foundation". Archived from the original on 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  9. "Young Artist Award arrives in Russia". Archived from the original on 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2011-04-06.
  10. "1st Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  11. "34th Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  12. "3rd Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  13. "4th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  14. "9th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  15. "10th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Archived from the original on 2015-07-16. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  16. "15th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  17. "33rd Annual Young Artist Awards". Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
  18. "16th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  19. "14th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  20. "32nd Annual Young Artist Awards". Archived from the original on 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  21. "18th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Archived from the original on 2011-04-02. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  22. "12th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  23. "23rd Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  24. "24th Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-31.
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