Brennan-Pierson Wang and Julian-Alexandre Wang have both diverse creativity and knowledge beyond their years. The brothers recently received recognition on their essays submitted to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., for a national writing contest called Letters About Literature. The essays crafted by the boys were not like regular book reports. The writing contest for students in grades 4-12 requires entrants to select a book, poem or speech and write a letter to the author highlighting how their lives were impacted or changed by reading their work. The Library of Congress encourages students to continue reading, exploring and understanding oneself and the world around them. Both boys made it to the semifinal rounds, with Brennan-Pierson Wang receiving first place for the state of Florida.
Check out our Q&A with the boys and their mom, Sandra, below!
NHN: What made you select the books that you chose to write about?
BP: The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison was one of my father’s favorites on his required list as a freshman at The Hotchkiss School in CT. He spoke highly of the author, and I wanted to read it in order to further discuss certain race issues with him. I admired how the book unfolded with deep emotions and conflicts. The book epitomized the vast racial injustices that have put people of color at a disadvantage.
JA: I love adventure, mystery and mythology. Rick Riordan is my favorite author because he combines all those aspects, which keep the reader in absolute suspense. The Lightning Thief, in particular, keeps my imagination running wild.
NHN: How do you both express your creativity? What kind of projects do you enjoy?
BP: I love being involved in the arts. I started writing poetry since age 5, and it’s always been a strong foundation in my creativity. I also enjoy acting, singing and composing lyrics/music. I play multiple instruments, and that flexibility allows me to continually experiment with different ideas. I am currently working on several vocal recordings of recent compositions.
JA: I express my creativity through artwork. I take a weekly online drawing class. I can spend several hours perfecting what I’ve imagined as my masterpiece. I also sing, act and dance. Being a triple threat enables me to express freely and have a great time while honing my craft.
NHN: What are your favorite books?
BP: My favorite books are The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Animal Farm by George Orwell, [and] The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
JA: My favorite books are Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, 1984 by George Orwell, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, [and] Animal Farm by George Orwell.
NHN: Tell me a bit more about their child performances in New York City. What does this mean and where have they performed?
Sandra: It takes a different personality to be a child performer. Not only does one need to be unabashed, cooperate with teams, [and] take directions attentively, but it’s important to be able to comprehend the script and act out with proper emotions. That’s the only way to embrace and connect with the audience. I think that the joy of reading from an early age has helped Brennan-Pierson and Julian-Alexandre mature in their thinking process. With a broader mindset, it is easier to understand their inner selves better and unleash the creative side without hesitation, especially at times “on demand.”
Brennan-Pierson has been modeling since age 2. His first on-stage, live performance was age 5, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has worked with great directors and cast on South Pacific, Wizard of Oz, Antigone by Sophocles, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, I Hate Music (ensemble with Emmy Award winner Glen Roven & Broadway Youth Ensemble), When I Grow Up – Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical (ensemble with Tuesday’s Children Annual Gala), Logan, The Tournament, The Sweatshop, Six Girls You Want To See At Home, PSA Fatherhood Campaign, EtiKids, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon Jr.’s Curious Minds, [and] Side by Side.
Julian-Alexandre has been modeling since he was 3 months old. His on-camera gigs include Team Umizoomi, Grace’s Magical Courtyard, My Decision, Capetown, Dancing Like a White Girl, [and] Shut Up and Dance!
NHN: What has been your most remarkable performance thus far?
BP: The Sweatshop was the best short film thus far. I had the opportunity to work with both adults and children. The narrative was solemn and revolved around forced child labor. As an actor, I not only learned of a world issue that most people are not aware of, but I was able to live the character, Lee’s, life and his trapped environment.
Another remarkable project was Side By Side with Keanu Reeves. It was an honor to meet and work with such a talented actor.
JA: HBO’s East of Main Street was the most unfettered fun. It was a documentary with an HBO series. There was no script involved. The children were interviewed impromptu, and the responses were completely natural, truthful and unfiltered.
BP: It’s important for kids to read because books are losing hand over fist to electronics. Don’t get me wrong … I am 13 years old and I LOVE my iPhone, too. In today’s society, parents do not encourage enough the importance of “turning the pages” and engaging silently with a good read. Books are really magical! They have the ability to teach life lessons, influence essential qualities, and broaden narrow perspectives. Most importantly, books can impart a sense of inclusiveness, comfort and excitement.
JA: Language and words are empowering. Reading good books challenges me with interesting words I might not be familiar with. I hope to build up an exhaustive vocabulary base so that I can score high on the SATs.
Sandra: As parents of three active children, we have discovered that it’s absolutely imperative for children to read, starting at an early age. Reading is essential because it is one of the main components that trains the mind. It not only fosters ideas, nurtures creativity, and introduces outlooks, but it invites “thinking outside the box.” We also strongly believe that voracious readers always yield magnificent writers. Reading and writing [have] an incredible, symmetric relationship.