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Dwight Henry

Dwight Henry

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

New Orleans resident Dwight Henry parlayed his status as one of the city's most well-loved bakery owners into a critically lauded performance in the indie fantasy-drama "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (2012), which captured not only the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival but also the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize. Born in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward in 1963, Henry was the owner of the popular Buttermilk Drop Bakery & Café in New Orleans when he was cast in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." He had aspired to be a baker his entire life, working as a caterer while paying the bills in construction and raising five children until 1999, when he opened his first establishment, Henry's Bakery. Tragedy struck when the business was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, but Henry soon built the Buttermilk Drop Bakery, which settled briefly in several locations before taking root in the 7th Ward. Among its regular customers was the production staff for "Beasts," which frequently posted flyers for amateur actors in the bakery. Henry decided to audition between moving arrangements, which entailed two readings for the producers. After completing the move to the 7th Ward, the film's director, Behn Zeitlin,...

New Orleans resident Dwight Henry parlayed his status as one of the city's most well-loved bakery owners into a critically lauded performance in the indie fantasy-drama "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (2012), which captured not only the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival but also the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize. Born in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward in 1963, Henry was the owner of the popular Buttermilk Drop Bakery & Café in New Orleans when he was cast in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." He had aspired to be a baker his entire life, working as a caterer while paying the bills in construction and raising five children until 1999, when he opened his first establishment, Henry's Bakery. Tragedy struck when the business was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, but Henry soon built the Buttermilk Drop Bakery, which settled briefly in several locations before taking root in the 7th Ward. Among its regular customers was the production staff for "Beasts," which frequently posted flyers for amateur actors in the bakery. Henry decided to audition between moving arrangements, which entailed two readings for the producers.

After completing the move to the 7th Ward, the film's director, Behn Zeitlin, offered Henry the role of Wink, which he initially rejected three times for fear that the bakery would suffer without his supervision. Eventually, Zeitlin won him over by bankrolling the business, which allowed him to hire additional staff while he appeared in the picture. With the help of Zeitlin and an acting coach, Henry was able to tap into his own past, most notably his experiences both as a two-year-old during the devastating Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and attempting to protect his business from rising flood waters and looters in the wake of Katrina, to inform his performance as Wink. The result was a critically acclaimed turn at both the Cannes and the Sundance film festivals in 2012, as well as additional movie offers. He soon accepted a supporting role in director Steve McQueen's "Twelve Years a Slave" (2013) opposite Brad Pitt and Paul Giamatti, but the restaurant business remained his primary focus. The success of "Beasts" gave Henry the clout to expand the Buttermilk Drop Bakery to other locations, including New York's Harlem neighborhood while also teaming with actor Wendell Pierce to open a chain of fresh-food markets across New Orleans. He also made plans to open a second restaurant, Wink's in downtown New Orleans.

By Paul Gaita

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CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Warning Shot (2018)
3.
 12 Years a Slave (2013)
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Milestones close milestones

:
Began baking career after dropping out at 11th grade; worked at local bakery in New Orleans, LA
:
First achieved fame in New Orleans¿s Seventh Ward as owner of Buttermilk Drop Bakery and Cafe
:
Discovered while serving his famous doughnuts to the producers of "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; initially turned down role of Wink, the main character's father in the film
2012:
Made acting debut in surprise hit "Beasts of the Southern Wild," starring fellow newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis as an adorable and fearless girl living in a sheltered community called the Bathtub on the Louisiana Gulf Coast
2012:
Joined cast of Steve McQueen's "Twelve Years a Slave" (2013) alongside Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender
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