You’ve probably heard of famous Gen Z child prodigies like Greta Thunberg, JoJo Siwa, Simone Biles, Emma Chamberlaine, and Billie Eilish. From popularizing viral dance videos to never having lived without the existence of the internet, children from Generation Z are known for many things.
Although many older generations peg these “zoomers” as being overly sensitive and highly reliant on “likes” and “follows,” Stanford University behavioral scientist Roberta Katz describes the “typical” Gen Z as, “A self-driver who deeply cares about others, strives for a diverse community, is highly collaborative and social, values flexibility, relevance, authenticity and non-hierarchical leadership.”
There are so many influential Gen Zs that are changing the world in fields that have far less media exposure. From Grammy-nominated jazz pianists to Olympic silver medalists and published authors, here are ten child prodigies you’ve probably never heard of.
10 DJ Switch
Erica Armah Bra-Bulu Tandoh, born December 12, 2007, is a multi-faceted performance artist and child prodigy from Dadieso, Ghana. Although she has experience in multiple performance areas, Erica is recognized mainly as “DJ Switch,” the youngest winner at the 2018 Ghana DJ Awards. She even took home the Best Female DJ award the following year, at just 11 years old. In 2020, not only was DJ Switch featured on Roc Nation’s social media for Black History month, earning her international recognition for her talents, but she also won a Global Child Prodigy Award.
DJ Switch is passionate about supporting her community, and in 2019 she donated tables and chairs to a junior high school in Brafoyaw, Cape Coast, Ghana.
In the future, DJ Switch will continue DJing while pursuing a career as a gynecologist.
YouTube: DJ Switch Ghana
9 Anisiia Volodymyrivna Gonymovych
In 2017, Anisiia Volodymyrivna Gonymovyc, born December 24, 2007, became the first Ukrainian to win “Mini-Miss Universe.” Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Anisiia is a competitive ballroom dancer, model, singer, pageant winner, television correspondent, and journalist. She has been spotted at Odessa Fashion Week as well as the 2017 International Kids Fashion Week.
Not only is Anisiia a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) International Academy of Journalism. In 2020, she was listed as one of the Global Child Prodigy Award’s “Top 100 Child Prodigies of the World.”
8 Stacey Fru
Stacey Fru, born February 16, 2007, is an award-winning South African author, activist, and public speaker. Her debut book, Smelly Cats, was published in 2015, when Stacey was just seven years old. Since then, Stacey has written five more books, all published by the Johannesburg publishing company Profounder Publishing.
Stacey won the Pan African Award for Literary Work in 2019, the Outstanding Young African Entrepreneur Award in 2020, and was shortlisted for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2020. In 2022, Stacey was appointed as the Director and President of AfroStory.
7 Jhulia Rayssa Mendes Leal
Jhulia Rayssa Mendes Leal, known more commonly as Rayssa Leal, is an Olympic silver medalist born on January 4, 2008. Rayssa competed at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in the women’s skateboarding street competition. She is the youngest athlete ever to represent Brazil at the Olympics and is the youngest Olympic medalist in 85 years. Rayssa was awarded The Visa Award at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for her outstanding sportsmanship during the competition.
Rayssa was born in Imperatriz, Maranhão, Brazil. In 2019, Rayssa competed with, and outscored, three-time X-Games Gold Medalist Alexis Sablone, and six-time X-Games gold medalist Letícia Bufoni, proving to the world just how much of a prodigy she is.
6 Tanaka Koki
Tanaka Koki, known by his stage name, “Koki,” is a Japanese K-Pop idol born on January 29, 2009. He first arrived on the K-Pop scene during the survival competition TV show known as LOUD in 2021, making the final lineup of the show in September 2021. Koki was the second-youngest participant and competed against trainee idols as old as 21.
Although Koki will no longer be debuting with the group from LOUD, Koki will continue as a trainee under PYS’s label P NATION.
5 Zuriel Oduwole
Born in July 2002, Zuriel Oduwole is a Los Angeles-born American filmmaker, education advocate, and public speaker. Zuriel made her first documentary, The Ghana Revolution (2012) when she was ten years old. Her second documentary, The 1963 OAU (2013), would earn her recognition in Forbes. By the time she was 12, Zuriel’s fourth film, A Promising Africa (2014), was getting international acclaim, and Business Insider cited Zuriel in their “World’s Most Powerful Person at Every Age.” In 2015, Elle Magazine put Zuriel on their list of “33 Women Who Changed The World”.
Zuriel now has seven films under her belt, and her most recent documentary, Nelson Mandela—A Centenary Life of Giving (2019), earned her recognition from the Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2019.
4 Juju Noda
Juju Noda, born February 2, 2006, is a professional racing driver currently slated to compete in the 2022 W Series, an all-female formula racing championship, at the age of 16. Juju is the daughter of the former Formula 1 racer, Hideki Noda. She’s been driving karts since she was four and has been testing “single-seat” race cars since she was just nine years old.
Juju’s first race as a professional was in 2019 at the Lucas Oil Winter Race Series, finishing things off in 14th place. In 2020, Juju moved to Denmark, where she would start competing in the F4 Danish Championship with a team run by her father. She won her first-ever race and finished the 2020 season in 6th place overall. The next year Juju finished the championship in 7th place.
3 Alma Deutscher
Born on February 19, 2005, Alma Deutscher is an esteemed composer, violinist, and pianist who composed her first sonata when she was five. Alma is from Basingstoke, England, where she played both the violin and the piano by the age of three. Her first opera, The Sweeper of Dreams, was finished in 2012 when she was just seven, and she would go on to write two more, Cinderella and The Emperor’s New Waltz.
Alma has also composed five orchestral pieces, six piano pieces, seven chamber pieces, and four songs. In 2019, she was recognized by the Beijing Music Festival, winning the Young Artist award—in the same year, she was given the European Culture Prize. In 2021, Alma became the youngest ever recipient of the Leonardo da Vinci International Award.
2 Joey Alexander
Joey Alexander is a jazz pianist, born on June 25, 2003. He was born in Depasar, Bali, Indonesia, and was the first Indonesian artist to chart on the Billboard 200. By the time Joey was six, he had taught himself to play the piano by ear. In 2013, at the age of nine, Joey won the Grand Prix at the Master-Jam festival. When he was eleven, he released his first album, My Favourite Things, which was nominated for the “Best Jazz Instrumental Album” Grammy in 2016. Joey has twice been nominated for “Best Improvised Jazz Solo” at the Grammys in 2016 and 2017 for his pieces “Giant Steps” and “Countdown,” respectively.
When Joey was eight, he was able to perform for one of his idols, Herbie Hancock, when Hancock visited Jakarta. After receiving Hancock’s praise, Joey “decided to dedicate [his] childhood to jazz.” He would go on to win the Grand Prix at the Master-Jam Festival in Odessa, Ukraine, the following year.
YouTube: Joey Alexander
Ewok is a professional E-sport athlete and influencer born on September 18, 2005. Ewok started playing Fortnite in 2018, and just one year later, he signed a streaming contract with Twitch. He became the first deaf member of the FaZe Clan. Ewok has been a pioneer for deaf representation in the gaming industry and explained that he uses a “sound visualizer” that Fortnite put in place to make their game more accessible to deaf and hard of hearing players.
In 2020, Ewok came out as transgender (assigned female at birth, transitioned to male) and bisexual, becoming the first “out” transgender player for FaZe. He was listed in Forbes‘ “30 Under 30” in the same year. Despite an onslaught of online haters and “trolls” after Ewok’s coming out, with people attacking his gender, sexuality, and even questioning the truth behind his disability, he continues to be a leader in his field. As of April 2022, Ewok has 329.9k followers on Twitter, 336k followers on Twitch, and 490k followers on Instagram.