Patty Fantasia

Perry & Zhu

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Patty Fantasia


Perry & Zhu

By Patty Fantasia

At the age of 10, Perry Chen is the youngest award-winning entertainment critic and TV & radio personality from San Diego.  The recent winner of the San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Award, Perry was first featured on the CBS News with Katie Couric, followed by an appearance on NPR with Leanne Henson.  He was also the first child film critic invited to be a presenter at the animation industry’s prestigious Annie Awards and just recently was a hit on NBC’s “Today in LA.” Show on October 24th.


Another high point for the young man was being invited to participate in the Kids2Kids 2010 TEDx Redmond event, which gathers high achieving young people together in order to share their experiences and inspire other children.  Perry was accompanied to the conference by his biggest supporter, mother, Dr. Zhu Shen, who guides every aspect of his budding career including the publishing of his website Perry’s Previews.

Perry is excited to be considered a role model for his peers explaining “It’s great.  When I spoke at TEDx Redmond conference (organized by kids, for kids, all kid speakers), so many kids came to me afterward and told me how inspired they felt and asked for my autograph.  I want them to know that ‘if you can believe, you can achieve!  Dream big, and do something about it.’  The important this is to take action once you figure out what you want to do.  All the speakers at TEDx Redmond are kids who are 16 or younger and super-achievers.  You’re never too young to start.”


His mother, Zhu, agrees wholeheartedly and is proud of her son’s position. “Perry spoke about his passion for writing, movies an art and inspired a lot of young audience and their parents.  The main take-away of his speech:  You’re never too young to start, parents can be your best allies, each child is unique with great potential to imagine and create, all success is built on the solid foundation of hard work.”

In addition to the TEDx Redmond conference, Perry has been invited to speak to high school students who are part of the University of San Diego’s “Blazing my Trail” program and many San Diego school fund-raisers inspiring young people to pursue their dreams and make positive changes in the world regardless of how young they are.

All of this began a few years ago when Zhu learned that her son was decoding words at the high school level, she wanted to keep him from becoming bored and suggested that he start writing reviews in order to become more challenged.  “Perry’s 3rd grade teacher Ms. Joli Harris was wonderful to work with,” Zhu recalls.  “She loved the idea and wrote comments on each of Perry’s book and movie reviews when he turned them in as his extra-curricular activities.  This continued on for the rest of the year.”  Zhu is a huge believer in strong parent and teacher communication adding, “I think that parents good benefit tremendously from engaging and interacting with their children’s teachers and finding out about their children’s special talents that they may not realize yet.  Great teachers are experienced with working with children and spotting their unique talents, so communication is key for parents to learn more about their children.  The most important thing that parents can do is to nurture their children’s talents by encouraging them, spending time with them, doing what they enjoy and providing tools and resources to support their talent.”


A strong advocate for education, Zhu received a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado about 15 years ago before continuing on to Cornell for an MBA.  She began her career as a consultant two years ago starting her own firm called BioForsight specializing in the business side of biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry.  However, due to Perry’s success, she has put many of her aspirations on hold for the time being in order to concentrate on her son’s pursuits.  From his school projects beginning with the book reports, Perry moved into doing film reviews beginning with his favorite DVD “Charlotte’s Web”.  This led to the launch of his website Perry’s Previews ( and the unique starfish rating system he created.  As Perry’s reviews continued to improve, Zhu thought it might be beneficial if he could write a weekly column for a local newspaper.  We Chinese in America Magazine and Weekly Newspaper published Chen’s first movie review in February of 2009 and he was offered a column immediately afterwards making him a credentialed film critic who is invited to all G/PG rated press screenings.

Perry’s popularity rose substantially after his television appearances and the continuous marketing efforts made by Zhu, who believes strongly in pursuing media attention through the use of face-to-face and internet networking.  A lot of her advice comes from her DVD “The Art & Science of Networking and Social Media”, which she sells online.  Speaking about her success in this area she advises, “The key is to know what your goal is and think about what makes your story interesting for the media.  Be persistent in your follow-up, but in a nice way.  Be appreciative and generous to those who help you.”


Aside from writing and speaking engagements, Perry is also in the process of becoming a filmmaker.  His favorite type of movie is animation and he hopes to work on more of these types of films in partnership with Oscar-nominee Bill Plympton after finishing “Beyond the Forest”, a five minute short about the survival of a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust., which Zhu is acting as Executive Producer on.

Zhu and Perry share a common love of a few children’s films including “How to Train Your Dragon” and Plympton’s short animation piece “The Fan and The Flower” and it’s obvious that this mother enjoys watching her son explore various aspects of art and film with a zest that could be described as “Perrific”.  Focused on supporting her precocious child, Zhu states, “I will continue to nurture Perry’s talents in different areas and share our journey with other parents, children, and educators.”