‘Child Genius’: Vanya Shivashankar Prepares For High School, Offers Advice To New Contestants (Interview)

“You have to make the competition fun"


Production kicked off on season two of Lifetime’s must-see reality competition CHILD GENIUS with a visit from the show’s first winner, Vanya Shivashankar.

The 13 year-old from Olathe, Kansas — who also happens to be the defending co-champion of the SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE — taped a segment Monday in Los Angeles where she offered advice to the newest crop of young brainiacs.

“I just told them to enjoy the experience and not to worry about the outcome or anything,” she told me moments later.

“You have to make the competition fun.  Not just think it is scary or ‘I am not going to do well.’ That is the mindset I had when I was competing.  So I just carry that through and I gave them that advice.”

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CHILD GENIUS is an intense eight week competition that challenges eight to 12 year-olds with questions ranging from spelling and math to geography and science.

“Obviously there is drama and excitement,” producer John Hesling told TheTVPage.com in January.

“There is tears and laughter.”

Vanya Shivashankar appears on 'Child Genius'

For Vanya, who hopes to one day practice medicine, returning to the CHILD GENIUS set was a bit “weird.”

“I was kind of reminded of how I was studying back here or hanging out with my friends,” she says.

“It all feels so different because last year I was actually in the competition and this year I had a chance to sit in the audience and watch.”

Watching from the audience, “I was kind of spelling along in my head and I was like, ‘Oh, I wish I was up there.  Maybe I could spell a couple of words up there too.”

“But that is done for me.”

In the video above, Vanya talks exclusively to TheTVPage.com about CHILD GENIUS, life after competitive spelling and preparing for her biggest challenge yet — high school.

CHILD GENIUS returns in January 2016 on Lifetime.

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly